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Newark: Owner of The Ashiana, North Muskham, spends £120,000 on refurb so he can open on April 12

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The owner of an Indian restaurant has spent £120,000 on a refurbishment to ensure he can open this month, writes Elliot Ball.

Sai Miah started the transformation of The Ashiana, North Muskham, in the first lockdown because he knew there would be a future emphasis on outdoor dining due to the pandemic.

“I just knew with the way things were going that outdoors would be a big market to capture and as we had quite a big courtyard outside, I thought let’s take the advantage here.

“We are already receiving plenty of bookings. For April 12 we are already more or less fully booked and throughout the week we are completely fully booked.

“Our customers expect a lot from us and that’s the standard we have built over the years and we want to maintain those standards.

“I’ve been here 12 years now and often we get our customers telling us just how high our standards are and that’s why we feel it’s important to keep spending money on the restaurant and the outdoor area.

The stylish new outdoor seating area. Samantha Hook Photography
The stylish new outdoor seating area. Samantha Hook Photography

“If I’m going to do a nice garden it needs to be up to standards and customers are then happy to pay because they know everything has been thought out.”

Sai said the new garden area would hold around 150 people, and more space could be made available if it is needed.

But he stressed the importance of keeping his customers safe.

He said: “We take the safety of our customers very seriously and I think the fact they will be outside will make customers feel more relaxed.

“Regular training is very important. As a business owner you need to get your staff and tell them ‘look guys, we don’t get too close to customers’ and I think my staff are alright because they’ve been with me for such a long time.”

On the government’s decision to start lifting lockdown, Sai said: “The April 12 date (for pubs and restaurants) was the correct call.

“Rather than opening up everything in one go, I think by gradually opening up ahead of May 17 — it prevents one big rush that could happen if everything was opened at once.

“The government is opening the economy slowly and gradually, which is what we need at the moment.

“Imagine if Boris Johnson had told us everything will open up at the same time, it would be absolute chaos — so I think they’re going about it in the right way.”

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