"if we're not careful it could fall off a cliff"
Due to the cost of living crisis, Indian restaurants may have to charge £30 for a curry.
Community leader Shale Ahmed represents restaurant owners in Birmingham.
During a conference at Aston University, he warned that diners face an “eye-watering” impact on prices at struggling curry houses.
He said that the soaring energy bills and rising cost of ingredients have left the industry in a “dark place”.
Mr Ahmed runs Aspire & Succeed, a community and youth organisation in Birmingham.
He said many curry houses will be forced to close if they do not receive immediate government help.
Mr Ahmed believes that around seven in 10 restaurants could be forced to close permanently after seeing weekly shopping bills increase by 40%.
Mr Ahmed said energy bills had also surged from around £8,500 to almost £25,000, leaving businesses on the brink.
He said: “The industry has faced and overcome many obstacles before but this could be the starkest one yet.
“It is in a very dark place and if we’re not careful it could fall off a cliff and leave thousands in the sector unemployed.
“The pandemic presented its own problems but the cost of living crisis has just spiralled things out of control.
“If we do not get immediate help from the government then we could face the loss of an iconic Birmingham institution – and the same further afield nationally.
“We have spoken to business owners who have seen their shopping bills go up around 40 per cent.
“The cost of oil has gone from £17 for 20 litres to £44. And restaurants go through about 100 litres a week. Even the price of onions has gone up a lot.
“We have seen figures saying around seven in ten pubs will close – well this number could easily be the same for curry houses.
“If you charge customers accordingly, a curry would have to cost between £25 to £30, which is not sustainable and restaurants don’t want to do that.
“People will not come, even now loyal customers are now only visiting one a month or a quarter rather than every week as purse strings tighten.
“It’s certainly not suitable in its current form. I don’t think many businesses will last through winter let along into the next year.
“People are not going to come through the doors and we’re going to have empty restaurants and takeaways which will be forced to close.”
Mr Ahmed runs Saucy Burger, an Indian street food company.
“Historically we’ve had an issue with staff and skill shortage and the pandemic didn’t really help.”
“But we have always adapted and changed and overcome this. Before it has been individual business owners coming forward but we must act as a collective now.
“The sector’s in a spiral effect and it’s snowballing out of control.
“In this city, these businesses have been passed through generations of families and we’re going to lose that if we’re not able to do something.
“People in the trade up and down the country and are experiencing exactly the same thing and I really fear for our industry.”