The Angel’s Takeaway

Posted on Analysis Apr 2009 - by Tandoori Magazine
The Angel’s Takeaway

Sadia Rahman has turned her takeaway Malaika’s Grill Bar into one of Huddersfield’s success stories in a little over six months. She talks to Tandoori.

Working in a business with one’s husband may take up a lot of family time and effort, but to branch on your own, it also takes hard work, tenacity and bravado.

You are having to juggle things several things at the same time – running and overseeing a business that requires long hours and building good working relationships with your staff, you are looking after children and holding a marriage, not to mention that you are having to hold your own and keeping a steady mind.

Sadia Rahman, is of course one of those women that can keep it all juggling. With her origins in Pakistan, Rahman had long been running a business with her husband where both would do up businesses and premises that had become defunct, do them up and then sell them on. Until that is, Rahman saw an opportunity she couldn’t refuse.

“My husband and I wanted something of our own,” she admits, “and when this derelict site came up, I just thought it would make an ideal takeaway which I could run. It’s in the heart of Huddersfield and adjacent to the university so as a catchment area it was quite good.”

Named after her eight-year-old daughter Malaika – the word denoting “angel” in Arabic – Rahman acknowledges that both she and her husband have a huge emotional attachment to the takeaway.

“We have not only built it up from scratch,” says Rahman, “but also made a heavy financial investment in it. Initially there was an element if naivety to what I was planning, thinking that I would set it up and the staff would just run it. But it’s never as simple as that. I’ve put my heart and soul into it. I’ve also had to grasp the various technical aspects of the takeaway, as well as attending health and safety courses so that I could train my staff.”

To Rahman’s surprise, Malaika’s food side has also exceeded her own expectations, even as far as winning an award for healthy cooking.

“I was always one of those people that the term can’t cook won’t cook was made for,” she notes, “yet it’s a surprise for even myself how I’ve managed to do the cooking. Other than the menu’s standard subcontinental repertoire of curries and wraps – there is also Halal shepherds pie, lasagne, moussaka and pizza – all with an Asian twist.”

The fact that Rahman ensures that the menu is as health conscious as possible, with virgin olive oil, less salt and flame grills being utilised in the cooking, has meant that Malaika’s been the first takeaway to have won a gold standard Healthy Choice Award from Kirklees Council.

Being a woman in a man’s world warrants Rahman to be quite pragmatic.

“I can’t say it’s all been plain sailing,” she states. “Initially when the business started, there was that odd look from the male staff of who does she think she is, but you just take it on the chin and get on with what’s required. I will make a point of mucking in whenever it’s needed, whether it’s mopping the floor or doing anything else. What that’s meant is that I have a very good rapport with the staff and the customers too.

My husband and I work around each other and share the responsibilities of bringing up our two daughters so that the right life-work balance can be achieved. Being a career woman that is far from easy. I would also say that anyone who thinks that all that glitters is quickly attainable would be wrong because launching your own business is one of the most challenging things you can do and you really have to be on top of it if you want to succeed.”

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