The owner of The Little Tiger is worried about the future after being forced to close his restaurant after a lease extension was rejected.
Abul Kashem, from Blackburn, opened his well-loved Indian restaurant just days before the first lockdown in 2020, but still persevered and provided a delivery and takeaway service with the help of his ‘loyal and hard-working staff.’
Over the years, the 46-year-old grew a loyal customer base, and the restaurant in Bolton Road, Abbey Village, has been at the heart of Chorley’s community.
Abul was hopeful for the upcoming months and the Christmas business period.
However, last month his landlord was the bearer of bad news when they told Abul his lease would not be extended due to a planning application, so the restaurant will close on October 9.
Speaking on the unfortunate news, Abul said: “It’s bad luck really. I’m just thinking about my staff who have supported me and stood with me in the pandemic - in a situation of life and death - they supported me.”
The father-of-three shared he is worried about his own family but is still determined to help his employees.
“I’m trying to find them jobs so they can continue supporting their families,” he said.
“My staff are like my family. I have one family at home, and one family at work so I’m really emotional about this.
“They’re worried about my business, they’ve put so much effort into this business and without their hard work, it wouldn’t be possible to build this business and community.”
The restaurant was passionate about community spirit and support so over the past two and a half years, Abul offered free meals for NHS staff and built a friendship with his customers.
After he announced the news on Facebook, a sea of supportive comments flooded his post with customers offering their sympathies.
One Facebook user wrote: “So gutted to hear this. You were our go to for a takeaway and great that you deliver to us as not many do. The very best of luck in your search for a new restaurant premises.”
Another wrote: “So sorry to hear you have been forced to shut. You have been an amazing host at your lovely restaurant and we will continue to support you as and when you open your new business.”
Abul said he was overwhelmed by his customers’ kindness and their help in trying to find a new premise for the restaurant.
The cost-of-living crisis is a main concern for Abul and he’s worried about how this will affect his plans moving forward.
“I only know this kind of job. I’ve worked in hospitality for 24 years so I’m looking to stay here.
"If I can find the right area, and afford a place I will try it, but I’m not sure,” he said.
Abul asked the landlord if they would extend the lease for a few more months so he and his staff could stay in business over Christmas, however Roxford Homes’ planning application to convert the building into three apartments and another six houses prevented an extension.
More than 30 objections against the application have been made to Chorley Borough Council's planning committe, including concerns of the loss of Abul’s business.
“I’m just sorry we’ve all had to lose from this, I don’t know what we’ll do but the community has shown so much love and care, it’s made me really emotional.”
The restaurant will be closing on Sunday, October 9, but will be open until 11pm every day until then.