COVID-19: Good news stories
COVID-19 Good News Story: Karahi Express
This week’s Good News Story comes from Karahi Express – a popular Panjabi restaurant in Hounslow that’s been in business since 2003. Karahi Express had big plans for 2020 – following a new wave of partnerships with Indian tour operators, Karahi Express started a fresh refurbishment project at the beginning of the year as they were anticipating another peak in business between April and October.
Unfortunately though, as many other small businesses, Karahi Express was forced to close due to COVID-19. This was particularly difficult as the restaurant has been open 365 days a year for the past 17 years; this was the first time in its history it had to close its doors.
Karahi Express was built on Panjabi roots and its ethos has always been that a restaurant is like a home – as Navdeep Gill tells us, “if someone comes to your home, you cannot let them leave without eating or drinking something”. This motto was embedded into the business early on and led the restaurant to support numerous charitable initiatives over the years.
One of the charities that Karahi Express has supported for the past seven years is Nishkam Swat. Pre COVID-19, they were regularly providing the charity with food for a homeless feed once a month. However, as the lockdown approached, the team at Karahi Express knew they could put their resources to good use through their existing charity partnership and significantly ramped up their support. Starting with 150 meals per day, Karahi Express now provides nearly double that every single day totaling at 6,000 meals so far for those living in shelters, hostels or to vulnerable members of society who are self-isolating.
Karahi Express is continuing to run its takeaway and delivery service with the help of many volunteers but their main aim is to break even and have enough to pay the rent so they can continue to help their local community. Gill is in no denial that times are tough and although the Karahi Express team has gone above and beyond to keep the business afloat and increase its brand awareness, Gill shares a piece of advice for all small businesses. ‘Every small business should try and put pressure on their local Governments and MPs to unlock more financial support and provide guidance on specific issues such as rent, paperwork, grant forms and insurance claims.” He is also encouraging the industry to support two online campaigns – #nationaltimeout and nine month #nationalrentfree – to protect the hospitality businesses we all know and love.
This is a great reminder that every business, no matter how small, can have an impact both on the community and society at large and perhaps the secret ingredients to see through these challenging times are innovation, charity and a little bit of activism. We wish Karahi Express all the success in the coming months and hope they continue to be the go-to spot for a curry for locals and tourists alike.