I couldn’t have coped without my customers
THE owner of an award-winning Indian restaurant has thanked loyal customers who stuck by him after it was hit by a hygiene rating of one, saying: “I couldn’t have survived without you.”
Sid Ali, who runs the Sopna Tandoori in Menai Bridge, said he was “devastated” following the report, which knocked his kitchen down from a four rating to a fail.
Now following a re-inspection that gave him the top mark of five, Mr Ali has offered his heartfelt thanks to the community which rallied around to “help him through the hardship”.
Mr Ali said the former Welsh Curry House of the Year winner had lost nearly 60% of its customers overnight – but he was now working hard to get them back.
The owner, who has run the popular curry house on Anglesey since 2009, said the restaurant ran into trouble in March after Anglesey Council hygiene inspectors said they found an “ant infestation” and mould growing on a vegetable store room wall.
Mr Ali, who claims his was the first Indian restaurant in North Wales to have scored the five rating after the system was introduced, said the low mark had a devastating impact on his business.
He said he was also the victim of racist abuse while he was out with his young son.
Mr Ali said: “I was devastated when I had a one. I do my utmost to do the best I possibly can and my customers know that. They know how clean my kitchen is.
He added: “On the day of the inspection, I had a delivery which had been left outside the back store room. I was unaware one of the boxes which had a broken cider bottle in had opened.
“When I brought it in, it had five ants on it – to say we had an ant infestation was unfair.
“I want to thank all my regulars who have come in and supported me through this hardship. I don’t know where I would be without them.”
Ten years ago the eatery won the prestigious Welsh Curry House of the Year award, before claiming the regional North Wales Curry House of the Year title in 2010.
The restaurant currently holds a four-star rating on review website TripAdvisor, with 80% of customers rating the Tandoori restaurant as “Excellent” or “Very Good” on the site.
One customer described the Sopna as the “best Indian restaurant in the area”.
The review says: “If you love your curry this is the place for you. A must visit. Fantastic food with great service with a smile.”
A spokesperson on behalf of Anglesey County Council said: “The authority’s food safety officers work to the highest possible standards and regularly participate in national consistency exercises to ensure that scoring is accurate and reflects conditions seen at the time of visit.
“Following the initial inspection carried out at the restaurant we are very pleased to see that the proprietor has gone to great lengths to rectify concerns raised in the report.
“At the time of the initial food hygiene inspection the proprietor was given, as are all proprietors, a right of appeal against the scoring. In this instance we did not receive an appeal.”