Sunderland’s Indian restaurants are concerned for the future

Perhaps more so than other businesses, Indian restaurants are mostly popular with groups of friends going out for a curry, and are less reliant on trade from couples and families.

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Monie Hussain, owner of Yuvraaj

Like all restaurants, it was closed for 14 weeks due to lockdown, and trade has been good since reopening on July 4.

But the businessman, whose restaurant has racked up many awards over the years, says this new ruling over the mixing of households has had the most devastating impact.

“90% of our trade is from our regulars,” he explained. “Up until now we had been doing well since reopening on July 4 and we’ve had a lot of support from our customers. You rely on a few big tables each night to make up your numbers and even with the rule of six, it was feasible.

“But this new restriction has had the biggest impact. As soon as it was announced, we had lots of cancellations because so many people were coming with their friends, especially on a weekend, and they just can’t do that anymore.”

People are being encouraged to use take aways too to help businesses survive

He added: “Christmas is usually our busiest time of year, and group bookings usually start from the end of October, so I’m really worried.”

Khaled Miah operates a number of businesses in the city with his family, including Goa in Seaburn, Mumbai Silk in Ashbrooke and Delhi Emperor in Barnes.

He has decades of experience in the industry, but says he’s very concerned for the future.

“It has been very quiet across all the businesses due to the restrictions and I don’t know how we will survive if it continues,” he said. “The rule of six was ok because people could still come with their friends, but we had lots of cancellations as soon as the tighter restrictions were announced. I’ve spoken to other members of the community and everyone is worried, but there is nothing we can do.

Mumbai Silk in Ashbrooke, pictured before lockdown

“All we can do is ask the curry lovers of Sunderland to support their local curry houses, even if that’s by buying a take away. If they want to dine in the restaurants, we’ve done everything we can to keep them safe with social distancing measures.”

Speaking about the uncertain future, he said: “If this continues in the long term, I think half of all restaurants will close and in the next few weeks staff will have to be let go, which nobody wants to do.”

This will be the first weekend in the city under the new tightened restrictions about the mixing of households, which was previously guidance under local lockdown measures.

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