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Coronavirus creates a ‘curry crisis’ on the UK high street

Restaurants across the country are reporting the extent of the crisis enveloping the curry restaurant sector. While there has been some takeaway business to keep things going, the reality of socially distanced trading is hitting many hard.
Customers remain nervous about returning with spending on meals out in the second week of July about half pre-lockdown levels in March, according to research by NPD Group.
Karan Bilimoria, owner of Cobra beer, estimates that only about half of Indian restaurants have reopened since lockdown restrictions eased at the start of July. More may open in August after the start of initiatives such as Eat Out to Help Out and the 5% VAT cut. But it is clear that the costs of reopening are significant also, and are a big barrier to getting going again.


The owner of the Taj Mahal in Bridport, Sarah Ai Choudhury, for example points out that while the 42-seater restaurant can now only serve about two-thirds of that number, and with customers in short supply anyway, bills need to be paid and overheads are the same. The Taj Mahal reportedly spent about £3,000 on measures including deep cleaning, disposable serviettes and new menus. The experience is fairly typical it seems. With extra costs not competed for by returning customers.
Sarah adds: “We are not sure that we can recover from the past four months. We can only hope that summer season will bring more people.”