AN INDIAN restaurant owner says he feels like a footballer winning the World Cup after being given a British Curry Award – again.
Sukur Ali was surprised and shocked when his Carlisle restaurant the Viceroy won the Best in the North West Award at ceremony in London on Monday.
It is the second time the restaurant, on Rigg Street, Shaddongate, has won the accolade, after also coming out on top in 2013.
Mr Ali said: “You know most football players dream of winning the World Cup. In our industry, everyone has a dream to win once in a lifetime a British Curry Award.”
Viceroy had to beat off tough competition from 5,000 other restaurants in the north west.
Without the restaurants knowing, mystery diners came and sampled their hospitality and food before making a shortlist of four restaurants.
The other three were based in Greater Manchester, Cheshire and Lancashire.
When asked what made his restaurant stand out, Mr Ali said: “I think the most important thing is smiling when people come in.
“Smiling for them as soon as they come in and saying, ‘Good evening madam’.
“If you’re starting nice, the ending will be nice as well.”
The Viceroy struggled at first when Mr Ali set it up in 1981 when he was 22, but its fortunes were unexpectedly changed by a petrol bomb.
It was thrown at the restaurant by someone wanting to damage it, but the bomb helped make the restaurant a success as it was front page news.
Lots more people around the county suddenly knew about Viceroy and started to come and sample its curries. Mr Ali smiles at the irony that the bomb which was meant to cause harm, actually turned out to be the catalyst for its success.
“After the bomb it was a different life,” he said.
Mr Ali attended the ceremony in London with 10 members of his family. He collected the award with his son, Alagmir Ali, who also works as the manager at the restaurant. They were presented with the award on stage by politician Chris Grayling, Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons.