"we could soon see at least one restaurant a day close down.”
As a result of the cost of living crisis, curry houses across the UK face uncertainty.
The industry weathered operational and business challenges such as staff shortages and the Covid-19 pandemic.
It now has to deal with rising energy bills and inflation. This is affecting both restaurant owners and customers.
For curry house owners, they have seen their shopping bills increase by an average of 40%.
The price of oil has increased by more than 100% while the cost of other essential ingredients such as a 25-kilogram sack of onions has now doubled to more than £14.50.
Energy bills have also surged from around £8,500 to almost £25,000, leaving curry houses on the brink.
Since 2007, one in four curry houses has closed down.
The remaining 9,000, which contributes £3.6 billion to the economy, are fighting to survive.
Yadav Bhandari, owner of the Everest Inn, in Blackheath, South East London, said:
“The price of everything is going up. The cost of creating dishes has skyrocketed.”
Jeffrey Ali, whose family founded the British Curry Awards, said curry houses have comparatively high labour and ingredient costs and “the industry desperately needs support”.
He added: “At the current rate of inflation, we could soon see at least one restaurant a day close down.”
This has led to a dilemma among restaurateurs.
To offset these costs, many restaurateurs have had to raise their menu prices. However, this puts some customers off, as households face tightened budgets themselves.
On the other hand, owners do not raise prices and run the risk of spiralling into debt.
Azad Hussain, who runs Koloshi in Cheltenham, said:
“Every week prices are going up.
“A few months ago I bought a box of butter for £22. This week it was £40.
“It’s a very hard situation for us – and the next year will be crucial.
“I have lots of friends in the industry who are struggling. Staff morale is very low, and restaurant owners are finding it difficult to hire staff.”
Mr Hussain said with delivery and produce costs rising, “at the end of the day you have nothing left”.
He added: “I’m trying to change – to have a smaller menu. You can’t put prices up or you’ll scare your customers.”
According to the Spice Business ‘Onion Bhaji Index’, the average cost of an onion bhaji in the UK will increase from £4 to £12 per portion.
Meanwhile, chicken tikka masala will rise from an average menu price of £7 to£17.
This and the addition of soaring energy bills could lead to seven in 10 restaurants closing for good without government intervention.
At the British Curry Awards, Stuart Herrington, Head of UK Account Management, Just Eat said:
“Awards like this rightly shine the spotlight on the hard-working people behind the restaurants and takeaways that are making an invaluable contribution to their local community and the UK economy.
“Curry is where Just Eat began. One of our first restaurants on the platform – some 17 years ago – served curry. It continues to be one of our most popular cuisines today.
“As we all know too well, the hospitality industry is facing increasingly tough challenges.”
“Inflation has climbed to its highest levels for many years, the price of food and energy bills continues to soar, interest rates are increasing at an unprecedented speed and we are still seeing staff shortages as a result of Brexit and Covid.
“There is no denying that it’s an incredibly challenging outlook.
“At Just Eat, now more than ever, we believe our role is to support the industry to flourish; using our scale and influence to play an active role in helping to tackle these challenges.
“This is why we introduced a £1 million Inflation Support Package to aid small, independent businesses, like the ones many of you in this room run.
“We also spearheaded the British Takeaway Campaign, in which we are currently calling on the Government to introduce five new policies to support the sector’s growth.
“These include freezing VAT rates at 12.5%, extending business rates relief until the end of 2022 and introducing a working visa for people from Commonwealth countries.”