I couldn’t have coped with­out my cus­tomers

Bangor Mail - - YOUR COMMUNITY - Sid Ali, who runs Sopna Tan­doori, thanked cus­tomers who stood by the restau­rant af­ter it re­ceived a one hy­giene rat­ing Pic­ture: Ar­wyn Roberts

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.”

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