Aktar Islam: "Landlords, councils and the Treasury need to help"

By Joe Lutrario

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Aktar Islam Chefs Opheem Birmingham Pulperia Indian cuisine meal kits

Birmingham-based chef restaurateur Aktar Islam has called on landlords, local councils and the Treasury to help the restaurant industry bounce back.

The Opheem and Pulperia chef says that many small restaurant businesses in the city are facing costs comparable to those operating in central London.

"At one of my restaurants the rateable value is the same as Westminster," he says. "The problem is that I don't have the same footfall that those in the capital benefit from.

"Property costs are wildly inflated in the city. Business rate in particular need to be addressed. We have a holiday until March but it's something they're going to need to look at soon."

Islam - whose flagship Opheem is the only UK Indian restaurant outside London to hold a Michelin star- predicts significant casualties in Birmingham's hitherto booming independent sector.

"Q1 and Q2 will show the real extent of the problems we're all facing. I'm hopeful that Birmingham will be able to bounce back. We've worked really hard to try and promote the city and change people's perceptions of it."

Islam also discusses his Aktar at Home nationwide delivery service, which has been a big success since launching at the tail end of the UK-wide lockdown.  

"The main reason we launched something was that a lot of our customers were asking us," says Islam. 

"We opted for Sunday roasts after seeing what some people were being subjected to at home."

Islam also offers curry box, which he says sold out in 21 minutes. 

"When we came back to the restaurant we decided to set up a seperate business. It's all about really good home cooking that's accessible in terms of price point," he says.

"Delivery can be expensive but each of boxes has enough to feed four twice over. 

Islam also talks about how he has carved out a niche in Birmingham's independent food scene and how he plans to manage bookings over the festive period. 

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