Ports Solent restaurant owner 'over the moon' he can reopen - after fears family business would be destroyed

THE owner of a restaurant could not be happier to hear he can reopen next month, after fearing he would have to permanently close the family business after 40 years of trade.

Tuesday, 23rd June 2020, 3:45 pm
Updated Tuesday, 23rd June 2020, 4:11 pm

Sonny Ahmed, who runs the family-owned India Quay in Port Solent with his nephew, Ishy, has cheered the news that restaurants can reopen on July 4.

Earlier today, prime minister Boris Johnson announced an easing of lockdown restrictions, including reducing social distancing to one metre.

Sonny said: ‘I feel like all my birthdays have come at once, because I really feared for this industry.

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Sonny Ahmed at India Quay. Picture: Habibur Rahman

‘My father’s restaurant has been going 40 years – and I really truly feared that we wouldn’t be able to open again.

‘I couldn’t have a bigger smile on my face.

‘We’ve had six calls already with people wanting to come in on the first day.’

The 48-year-old, who offered a takeaway service during the lockdown, added: ‘If we had to stay closed until the end of August, we would have probably hung up our boots.

‘We have had one tenth of the trade we normally do – it was that bad.’

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The one-metre social distancing restrictions will cost the restaurant tables, but ‘it’s better than nothing,’ according to Sonny.

He said: ‘We will probably lose about a sixth of our tables.

‘We will probably have about 20 in total when we reopen.

‘We are looking at our booking system so there is always the right amount of people in the restaurant, and looking at taking bookings only.’

The restaurant owner plans to have all 10 members of his staff return from furlough for the reopening.

He said: ‘We can’t wait to reopen again.’

The announcement comes as the restaurant celebrates delivering its 2,000th free meal to vulnerable people in isolation and NHS staff across the city, as part of its charitable work during lockdown.

Sonny said: ‘Donations dried up about five or six weeks ago, but we’ve kept going.

‘It’s been really emotional delivering the meals to NHS staff.

‘We really can take them for granted.’

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