Grandad's legacy is on the menu as Royston's Safwaan becomes youngest Indian takeaway/restaurant owner in the UK
PUBLISHED: 13:57 09 September 2015 | UPDATED: 13:59 09 September 2015
He's the youngest Indian restaurant/takeaway owner in the country, but Royston's Safwaan Choudhury has only just got started.
The ambitious 18-year-old graduated from the Peter Jones Enterprise Academy in July, then in the same month bought his first Indian takeaway business – Royston Tandoori in George Lane.
It was a rapid transformation for someone who had ‘miserably’ failed his AS-level exams.
He said: “I sometimes wake up and think: Is this real? Am I really doing this?”
But ever since he worked as a 15-year-old waiter at Palazzo in Kneesworth Street and then completed stints at other restaurants around town, he knew a career in business was for him.
Safwaan draws inspiration from his popular father Siraj Choudhury and late grandfather Nazir Choudhury who opened up the town’s first ever Indian restaurant – British Raj – back in 1976 after emigrating from Bangladesh in the 1960s.
As well as owning restaurants, Nazir always stayed true to his roots and set up various charities to help needy Bangladesh communities – a legacy that Safwaan wants to continue.
At a time when many minorities faced racism and intolerance, Nazir found Royston to be a welcoming place, and was a good friend of the Crow – Safwaan recently scrolled through old clippings of the paper and found articles about the restaurant’s opening, at which 40 staff from the newspaper piled into the Raj to sample the authentic Indian delights.
Safwaan said: “The restaurant was award-winning – when I meet people and tell them my name is Choudhury, they always ask about my grandfather. His ethos was innovation.
“I’ve learned from that and so I’m making changes to the business, the first of which is award- winning chef Habibur Rahman.
“I’m trying to make the business active in the community – we sponsor Royston Town Ladies football team. I’m introducing healthier recipes – less salt, sugar, oil and ghee – and have got rid of nut products for those with allergies.”
The young entrepreneur had his business head firmly screwed on from a young age.
He will be starting a degree in marketing at the University of Hertfordshire later this month, and has grand plans to extend his business empire, branching into the property market at some point in the future.
His number one dream, though, is to reopen the British Raj in honour of his grandfather, to bring back the great institution that so many Roystonians once loved.