The owner of an Indian restaurant in Beaconsfield has revealed plans to open a new venue this summer – two years after a kitchen fire ‘destroyed’ his business prospects.

Councillor Mohammad Khaled, 49, founded Basmati Indian restaurant on Aylesbury End in the New Town nearly 20 years ago.

Growing up locally, he drew on a number of local contacts, friends and family to get his enterprise off the ground and even managed to thrive during the unprecedented times of the COVID-19 pandemic – delivering “hundreds” of free meals to his loyal customer base. 

It was a tremendous blow, then, when the restaurant was “completely destroyed” in a kitchen fire in August 2022, months after its head chef was named Chef of the Year at the Bangladesh Caterers Association UK awards and in the wake of a £77,000 refurbishment project.

Mohammad still hasn’t managed to get an insurance payout from the incident despite an investigation officer confirming that the fire was accidental and that uncertainty, coupled with the extent of the destruction, initially caused him to enter into a “depression” for around a year.

However, his luck began to change in June 2023 when a trusted customer mentioned that a site on Penn Road in Beaconsfield New Town had gone on the market.

Mohammad immediately took to the new unit – “When I walked in, I said: ‘This is my restaurant’. The guy asked me if I wanted more time to think about it and I said: ‘No, I don’t need any time’.”

Bucks Free Press:

By September, he had acquired the lease and gained planning permission from the council to change it from a clothing shop to a restaurant.

The 49-year-old is currently in the throes of sorting out the practicalities of development – he needs to install a new drainage system, add electrical sources and build a kitchen on the site – but he has been bolstered by the outpouring of community support for the reopening and is eyeing a potential launch date of late July or early August.

While the circumstances are not what he would have wished, or even imagined a few years ago, Mohammad is optimistic about the opportunities provided by the new site – including, when the insurance money for the original restaurant finally clears, having bases in both the older and newer parts of Beaconsfield.

Bucks Free Press:

READ MORE: Historic Old Amersham pub to undergo major summer refurb

“When I first agreed to take this place, I was quite emotional. I didn’t realise how much work it was going to need, but my friends, family and customers have all been so encouraging and so willing to help me out.

“I’m so lucky because all of my staff have stayed with me – the chefs and waiters are all coming back, so it will be exactly the same team. Some of them have been with me since I first opened 20 years ago, and I’m hoping to have two of the original chefs at each restaurant if everything goes to plan.”

Bucks Free Press:

He is keen to emphasise the importance of support and friendship from his customer base in encouraging him to reopen Basmati after the fire left him “heartbroken” and aimless for months.

“I’ve always lived in Beaconsfield, so everyone knows me, and I know them. We recently put signs up in the window of the new restaurant and I’ve had so many people ringing me to ask when it will open. 

“I hope it will have the same buzz that it used to. It’s been a very slow journey to get here, but seeing all this excitement has given me a boost. It feels like a very good thing.”

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