Gosforth restaurant wins national award after sticking to 40-year recipe for success

A Newcastle family restaurant that has been quietly in business for almost 40 years has won a national award.

The owner of Ahad Tandoori, in Gosforth High Street describes it as “the best feeling of my life” to have won Best Restaurant at the Curry Life Awards thanks to an unchanged menu that has remained a customer favorite for decades.

Tahmid Ahmed’s father first started the business he now runs with the support of his two brothers and he says the win, announced at an awards ceremony held at The Grosvenor House hotel in London, is the restaurant’s premiere despite being nominated for multiple awards. events.

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They never sought awards or publicity, he says, and Ahad Tandoori didn’t even advertise over the years, relying instead on word of mouth from loyal customers. Although it’s now embracing social media, staying the same seems to be a big part of the restaurant’s appeal: regulars know what to expect and they love it.

Tahmid Ahmed receiving the award overnight

“We haven’t changed in 40 years,” says Tahmid, whose father trained him to be a chef, and they remain consistent and true to their traditions and core values. “We still serve the same food my dad created in the 1980s.”

There has, however, been a recent addition to the menu. Tahmid’s father, who works fewer days at the restaurant now that he is in his 60s, remains actively interested in all things food and while in India last year he sampled a dish that he wanted to add to the restaurant menu.

The medium-spiced main course, Railway Lamb, is now well received by customers. Whenever his father is at the restaurant, he keeps a close eye on Tahmid in the kitchen. “He has an eye like a hawk! he’s laughing.

“He might say ‘that’s a little too much salt, throw it out and do it again’. It’s rough but necessary!”

It was the consistent high standards that brought Tahmid and his brothers to the 2022 Curry Life Awards ceremony where guests included former Sky political editor Adam Boulton; Premier League footballer Hamza Choudary and Lord Karan Bilimoria, head of Cobra who is one of Curry Life magazine’s sponsors of the event.

The food on Ahad Tandoori's menu has proven a consistent favorite with diners for nearly 40 years
The food on Ahad Tandoori’s menu has proven a consistent favorite with diners for almost 40 years

“We drove up and there were all these cars – Lamborghinis and Range Rovers – and we felt out of place!” Tahmid said. It was a lavish evening and having the restaurant’s name named as the winner was, he says, “the best feeling of my life”.

He adds: “We have always been under the radar, although in my opinion we serve very good food. Finally, our hard work and efforts have been noticed and appreciated.”

The award is especially welcome at such a difficult time for the industry – with the current cost of living crisis hot on the heels of the challenges of the pandemic – and the family is grateful for all the support from loyal customers helping them to through.

During the pandemic, the restaurant started doing takeout for the first time, but Tahmid missed interacting with diners who are like friends. “We had never done takeaway before; our main business is catering and I realized during the Covid years that takeaway is much harder than restaurants!” he says now.

Although they are a cheaper option than restaurants for customers, restaurants end up counting the cost because takeout requires the same amount of stock and staff commitment. And, used to chatting with guests, Tahmid found himself spending his days talking on the phone, taking orders for hours instead.

Inside Ahad Tandoori in Gosforth
Inside Ahad Tandoori in Gosforth

But afterwards, loyal customers were quick to return to eat at the restaurant and they continue to support it during the current crisis which, apart from rising gas and electricity bills, has caused it to skyrocket. the cost of basic food and supplies, including the cost of chicken. and lamb has gone from around £5 a kilo to £12, says Tahmid. And the price of oil has tripled.

“It’s very scary for businesses today,” he says. “I think we’re suddenly going to see a lot of closures.”

“It’s not sustainable. We have to deal with the energy crisis.” Companies, he adds, need all the support they can get. He knows friends in the industry who are about to close: “It’s pretty heartbreaking.

At Ahad Tandoori, they are doing everything possible to keep the situation stable and the same prices for customers. “We don’t want to overcharge people. They’re struggling too.”

He adds: “We offer the best possible service.” And this new price says it all.

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