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October 7, 2020

Pakistani entrepreneur opens takeaways in London phone booths

National

October 7, 2020

Tayyab Shafiq poses for a picture outside a red telephone box that he converted into a takeaway restaurant. 

LONDON: A Pakistani entrepreneur has launched the world's smallest takeaway serving delicious Pakistani food in three used London phone booths and plans to open new franchises across the United Kingdom.

Tayyab Shafiq, 25, rented the booths from the Red Kiosk Company which reuses old phone booths. Originally from Lahore, Tayyab Shafiq came to London to study at the University College London (UCL) four years ago. He is a qualified mechanical engineer.

In an exclusive conversation with The News, the entrepreneur said: "As a young Pakistan Entrepreneur initiating my businesses in the UK, it saddened me that people relate to desi food with Indian cuisine, I want people here to relate to the Pakistani cuisine as much as they do with Indian food. As a restauranteur I want to promote my Pakistani traditions and bring back the golden sparrow image of Pakistan in the most iconic manner."

Locate just outside the Uxbridge Station on High Street; Tayyab Shafiq has been happily posing for pictures for the English press. His business venture of aromatic Biryanis has been covered in several papers. Tayyab sought to create a distinction between Pakistani and Indian cuisine and he says that is the reason he started this unique and innovative venture to give another life to these red telephone booths.

Tayyab said he wanted to cater to the Pakistani and desi food market in his new venture. "As there are so many Pakistanis in the UK, so I had a vision to do businesses which represents Pakistani culture in the UK and to play my role in strengthening the bond between Pakistan and the UK specially after Brexit when the UK is looking for new business partners. It is a prime opportunity to re-establish the holdings in the UK," Tayyab told The News.

He said his smallest takeaway in the world serves chicken and lamb Biryani, Dal Chaval, Samosas, drinks and various other snacks. He gets the food delivered to the booth twice a day and uses electric food warmers to keep the food hot and fresh. His phone booths are connected with the power supply.

The three phone booths are secured by a password protected punching pad and Tayyab plans to install security alarms too. Asian and Pakistani food in particular has become increasingly popular in the UK with 'Chicken Tikka Masala', an Anglicized version of the Chicken Tikka has been awarded Britain's dish of the year many times.

Tayyab accepted that the place is too small and he struggles to fit himself in to fit. “That’s the beauty of this restaurant. There is no place to sit. You can only do takeaway and enjoy food in your own space and in your own area.”

As soon as Tayyab opened the restaurant, it caught attention of a reporter who did a report on it and within hours several media men descended to the location for interviews. Tayyab is currently renovating the phone booths to completely comply with the local council’s regulations on food.

Tayyab Shafiq said his landlord was a good man who had given him three booths on a cheap rate. “I cannot disclose the deal between us but it’s very cheap. I have invested £800 to start the business.” Tayyab Shafiq has given new meaning and life to thousands of red phone boxes across the UK.