AN Indian restaurant that stayed open for takeaways during the entire pandemic so customers could still get their curry fix is up for one of the UK’s most prestigious food awards.

Cinnamon Spice Club in Trimdon, which has been a part of the County Durham community since 2012, will be vying to be crowned the ‘Best Restaurant North East’ when the British Curry Awards comes around on Monday, November 29 in London.

Sabir Ahmed, who owns the restaurant, had a difficult decision to make at the start of the pandemic when closing the doors to Cinnamon Spice Club temporarily looked like the only option.

However, with the support of loyal customers and staff members that are “more like family”, the owner was able to stay open for the last 18 months through a “revolutionary” takeaway system.

READ MORE Barnard Castle Indian restaurant voted best in North-East

Now that the restaurant in Trimdon has opened again with the usual offering of Indian cuisine, cocktails, and other drinks – Sabir is looking forward to finding out whether Cinnamon Spice Club has done enough to be crowned regional champions at the British Curry Awards.

He said: “I feel great that we’re getting recognition for the hard work we’ve put into the business since opening.

“I was shocked to get the call that we were shortlisted because we’ve just focused on getting over the pandemic during the last 12 months.

“I’ve attended the British Curry Awards since 2013, and this is the pinnacle within our industry. It’s by far the biggest awards we could be shortlisted in, and it’s seen as the benchmark for any Asian restaurant to get to.”

The Northern Echo: Head chef at Cinnamon Spice Club, Shayer Miah.Head chef at Cinnamon Spice Club, Shayer Miah.

Since its opening nine years ago, the restaurant has managed to land English and Asian Curry accolades, as well as making the shortlist for the British Curry Awards in 2017.

Sabir and the team will be hoping to go one step further this time, though.

He added: “Teamwork within Cinnamon Spice is one of the factors to success, and I’d like to thank our loyal customers for their support during a dark time for the country.

“We’ve had to build our way through the ranks and apply for council awards, local awards, and now we’re preparing to take everything national.

“Yes – I’d love to win the British Curry Award, but to be part of it is a success and honour in itself.”

The Northern Echo: Sabir and Shayer at a previous award ceremony. Sabir and Shayer at a previous award ceremony.

On November 27, Cinnamon Spice Club will battle it out with other restaurants from the North East in a ceremony at Battersea Evolution, London.

This year’s ceremony, the 17th of its kind, has particular significance, given the challenges faced by the industry over the past 18 months of the pandemic, and will acknowledge the industry’s spirit and resilience through difficult business and personal circumstances.

The industry has seen many leaders, pioneers, restaurateurs and staff tragically lose their lives to Covid.

READ MORE Cafe Spice, Darlington, voted best in Britain by Curry Life

This year’s ceremony will pay tribute to those that have passed away and build on last year’s ceremony, which had to be moved online.

British Curry Awards Founder, Enam Ali MBE, is the UK’s leading spokesperson for the curry industry and has been promoting it globally for the past 45 years.

He said: “It gives me great joy that, after the challenges of the last 18 months, my industry friends in the UK curry fraternity and public figures will unite once again in person at the home of the British Curry Awards – Battersea Evolution – to celebrate the nation’s favourite curry houses while also recognising the issues we, as an industry and as a nation, have faced during the pandemic.


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