A quarter of Indian and Bangladeshi restaurants in the UK fear sales will not return to pre-pandemic levels following the lifting of restrictions this month and next, risking a spike in unemployment in Asian communities living in the country.
A survey by the "British Curry awards" shows that Indian and Bangladeshi restaurants suffered badly during last year's lockdowns. Seven in eight restaurants saw their sales decline, the vast majority – about 86% - by up to 75% of revenue. More than 42% of restaurants lost between a quarter and half their revenue, said a press release issued on Tuesday.
There are concerns this could cause more restaurants to shut. Closures have been commonplace in recent years because of the shortage of skilled curry chefs.
As British palates have become more accustomed to the subtleties of Asian cuisine, so the food has become more sophisticated and the need for more accomplished chefs greater, the release said.
The findings add to calls for the appointment of a hospitality minister to support the wider restaurant and pub industry through this crisis.
In this regard, British Curry Awards founder Enam Ali said, "The curry industry has been devastated by the pandemic, with thousands of restaurants losing up to three-quarters of their revenue last year. Confidence of recovery is incredibly low and comes after years of restaurants shutting at a rate of at least two a week because of a shortage of skilled chefs. Closures are particularly damaging for Asian people, creating huge pockets of unemployment in Bangladeshi, Indian and Pakistani communities."
"We now risk far more neighbourhood restaurants shutting their doors for good, wrecking what has been one of the country's culinary success stories – the sector is worth more than £5bn to the UK economy. To save the great British tikka masala, we need support. The appointment of a dedicated hospitality minister focused on a strategy to guide us through the recovery would be a huge first step," added Enam.