Birmingham’s massive curry house industry could be in for a rough ride over the next year, one of the industry’s most well-known figures has warned.
Jabbar Khan, the owner of Lasan – recently named the best Indian restaurant in the country for a second time – said the credit crunch had yet to fully hit the restaurant industry, and next year would be a critical time.
The hundreds of curry houses in Birmingham – the home of the Balti – has been under pressure this year because of the increasing price of rice, and the downturn in demand because of the credit crunch.
And it has also been hit by a change in immigration law which has brought in a points quota system and cut down on the number of Bangladeshi people able to come to the country to work in restaurants.
But Mr Khan said the worst was yet to come. He said: “For ourselves, we have been very fortunate, it’s been very steady and in fact some months have been very good, better than previous years.
“I think the challenging time is yet to come – later this year and early next year.
“The increase in the price of the produce has made it difficult for the restaurant industry to put up its costs and people profit margins have certainly been challenging.”
He said that while high-end restaurants like Lasan had been able to avoid the worst effects of price rises, but smaller ones away from prime city centre locations had been harder hit.
“The lower end of the market haven’t priced themselves right in the first place so they haven’t been able to compete,” he said.
““I think times are already getting tough and I know a lot of people who are struggling. Every time there’s a financial downturn it can wash away those who are under pressure. I think it’s cruel to say but it does clear the market for healthier professional businesses to remain in business.”
The Jewellery Quarter restaurant was awarded the 2008 British Curry Award at a stunning ceremony at the Grosvenor House Hotel, Park Lane in London.
The British Curry Awards is the biggest event in the curry calendar. The event was hosted by impressionist Jon Culshaw and was attended by more than 1,100 restaurateurs, MPs, diplomats and celebrity guests like chef Heston Blumenthal.
Lasan’s development chef, Aktar Islam, said: “The team are ecstatic to win. What we share is a passion for the food, the cooking and the industry, which I feel is a winning combination. And this has been reflected by the huge support we have had from our customers.”
Mr Islam is a rising star in the industry, and made a splash at this year’s Taste of Birmingham festival.
He went on: “I think when it comes to Indian food, Birmingham is one of the focal points in the UK. We have got a massive and diverse influence. Indian food is a very big part of Birmingham’s life.”