Wakefield’s Takeaway Star

Posted on Analysis Aug 2008 - by Tandoori Magazine
Wakefield’s Takeaway Star

Abdul’s takeaway in Wakefield, West Yorkshire, has just won a 5 star rating for hygiene. Its owner Abdul Ghafoor talks to Tandoori.

If takeaways have always been secondary to restaurants then living proof of how they too can get into the limelight is Abdul’s in Wakefield, West Yorkshire.

Not only is it clean, contemporary and slick, the man at the heart of the business, chef-patron Abdul Ghafoor, is a former Northern Curry Chef of the Year. But what’s been drawing news of late for this well-loved institution which has been operating for a decade – with the second site opened in Pontefract three years ago – is that the national ‘Scores on the Doors’ hygiene rating scheme, administered by the local environmental health department, has given Abdul’s an ‘excellent’ rating with five out of five stars.

“It means the world for us to win the accolade,” says an elated Ghafoor. “It takes a lot of hard work. My guys are constantly cleaning and after we close up every day, for over three hours, there is a lot of scrubbing, cleaning, polishing and making sure that it is spotless for the next day. Now, I really feel that the guys have been rewarded for their hard work.

Both the Wakefield and Pontefract sites have got a contemporary feel to them. Using bright vibrant colours, we have modern furniture and an open plan kitchen with lots of theatre so customers can see all the food being made freshly. That way, they can position themselves only feet away from the action. The seating is simple and informal, it’s easy to maintain and people feel relaxed. We have food displayed in the refrigerated counters at the front such as, fruit salad, olives, pickled chilli’s, desserts, as well as our own made range of lassi drinks.”

Ghafoor is at pains to explain that often a takeaway as seen as a place where customers make a quick stopover, but notes that owners should be more caring towards their environment and the impression it creates with people.

“To keep a clean kitchen,” notes, “you have to have systems and procedures in place. Monitoring of these systems and procedures is just as important as having them. You sometimes have to train your staff to do the obvious things. It is a common misconception that people know how to clean properly and hygienically. We always train our staff on how to clean effectively and then we moniter this. From day one the kitchen was designed to be cleaned easily with all surfaces being accessible for cleaning. On top of this, the right cleaning equipment is essential.

Unfortunately, so many owners in the takeway business don’t understand food and don’t have any passion for the food. I try and put passion in everything I do, from creating the dishes to the look and feel of the premises. Nowadays customers are a lot savvier about the food they consume and where they are eating so they expect a higher standard and so they should.”

Describing his cooking as “good wholesome food made with traditional Punjabi recipes passed down through generations of my family, infused with a western pallet”, Ghafoor states that it comes with a menu which is also evolving all the time.

“I have lots of new ideas that I’m always experimenting with,” he notes, “and I am not afraid to try something different. We try to let our customers try new things. Keep it exciting. We are also very lucky in that our competition is never our main focal point, we concentrate on our own game. I believe we have created a niche market and a strong customer base. The kinds of clientele which eat our takeaway haven’t necessarily eaten takeaway food in the past and usually expect a higher standard than the average back street takeaway.”

As his advice to anyone opening a takeaway, Ghafoor states, “Be prepared to work really hard, long and unsociable hours. If you don’t love food, don’t get into the business. You must have a passion for the food. It’s a very personal business. If you’ve got passion, pride and some resilience then you will succeed.”

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