By: Barnie Choudhury
Dishoom boss’s pride in feeding millions of children and NHS staff during pandemic
IT IS likely that hospitality professionals will be thankful at Christmas and New Years for the Chancellor’s Â£ 1billion fund. One in 10 restaurants has been forced to close permanently during the pandemic, according to global consultants Alix-Partners [between March 2020 and April 2021]. His research suggests that in July and late September, with full trading conditions in the summer, nearly 1,000 closed.
Despite the difficulties, however, a South Asian restaurateur made sure his entire team of 1,700 people kept their jobs.
âWe got through the whole pandemic without getting rid of anyone’s jobs,â said Dishoom co-founder and boss Shamil Thakrar. Eye of the East.
âThe good thing is that we are still among the UK’s ‘Best Workplaces’, and this year we were ranked fourth in the UK and the Best Hotel Company for a Workplace, which in my opinion is a very good result.
âIt also helped us during the staff shortages of the past few months. It was much easier to get people to primarily recruit their friends and acquaintances.
Thakrar faces the latest Covid restriction with the stoicism of someone who has faced adversity for almost two years.
âWe were very excited about this month of December. Unfortunately, he was cut short. But I guess we just take the environment we’re operating in and kind of have to take the blows. I think this year we are improving in the changes. Omicron is coming, I guess we’ve seen this movie.
Like all movies however, the script requires adaptations and changes. Thakrar said: âI think the delivery business has helped us tremendously. The meal kit business was a big help.
âWe opened a new restaurant at the start of the pandemic and we had a restaurant extension near Covent Garden. We have doubled in size during the pandemic. We had to work hard enough to make it all work.
âOmicron obviously looks very contagious, but I suspect that because of that whatever happens it will be quick. I’m delighted that we already have such a large number of boosters in the population, and we will very quickly. But who knows? “
In 2014, during Ramadan, Dishoom launched its âmeal for a mealâ initiative. For every meal purchased by customers, Dishoom, along with its long-term charitable partners, Magic Breakfast and Akshaya Patra, donated a meal to a child in the UK and India who would otherwise have gone hungry.
âDuring the pandemic, we had a total of 10 million meals donated,â Thakrar explained. âI think we’re at 11 million now, maybe a little more than that. So that’s something I’m really proud of that we have continued.
Dishoom also supported the NHS during the lockdown by sending 20,000 meals [biryani and dal] health workers.
Thakrar is known to advocate for mental well-being and agreed that he was of the “half a full glass” type.
âWe really focus a lot on people’s mental health. We focus a lot on link building. I mean, I ran yoga classes every fortnight for the folks back home. We’ve done a lot of different things like that, which I think has really served us well. “