‘The calm before the storm’ – How Manchester’s Curry Mile prepares for hundreds of Eid guests

Muslims throughout the region will look forward to their special day as the holy month of Ramadan draws to a close. With only nine days left of the month, people up and down Greater Manchester will be making plans on how to celebrate Eid.

One thing that will definitely be part of people’s travel plans is a visit to the world famous Wilmslow Road in Rusholme, also known as the Curry Mile. A staple of the Eid festivities, thousands of people have taken to the streets over the years to take part in the festivities, where children and children consume ice cream and sweets, young men and women relax in the popular shisha places, families eat delicious food at restaurants and flash sports cars crossing up and down the road.

When the Curry Mile is the place to be for Eid parties, how do the countless companies on the road prepare for the big day? That MEN went down to the Curry Mile to ask local business owners about their plans.

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While many restaurants see Eid as one of the biggest days in their calendar after what has been a quiet month during Ramadan, some employees do not quite share their enthusiasm. Bash, who has worked at Walnut Persian Restaurant for eight years, described Eid as ‘awful’ because of the strenuous workload the restaurant assumes when people celebrate for as long as three days.

In a speech to the MEN he said: “It’s awful! So many people, so much traffic, so crowded for three days, no lies at all. It’s a big headache, we manage things by accepting reservations and people making them already with only ten days left.



Eid is a huge time for businesses in this part of Manchester

“The staff does not have a day off under Eid, we expect to serve almost 400 people that day.”

With ten days left, people have already started making plans, one of them is what clothes to wear on that particular day.



Bash is preparing for a busy Eid
Bash is preparing for a busy Eid

One of the busiest shops on the road up to Ramadan is the clothing shops on Wilmslow Road. Raouf is the owner of Farouq Fabrics, which has been on Wilmslow Road for 42 years.

He says that the business sees the most action in the last two weeks of Ramadan, and that it gets so busy that they sometimes have to close well into the morning.



It is not only restaurants that want to be busy

“The first half of Ramadan is quiet, people are fasting and not in the mood to buy,” Raouf explained. “When it’s approaching the Eid date, it’s when the storm comes.

“It’s stressful, but it’s our time of year, we make money, it’s our peak time, so we just take it. The top sellers are ready to wear, off the stick clothes, the general majority of customers are for the last week, 10 days road, it’s getting closer and people are excited they want to buy.

“We are closing on Eid, we are done and dusty and deserve our day off, but the day before we are here until 12.00 – 01.00. The late guards were tiring, but you bite your tongue and move on.”

Another company that has been on the Curry Mile for many years is Eastern Gold, a jewelry store that has also spent 42 years on the strip. They say they have worked hard to ‘spruce up’ store ahead of the big day and say they plan to stay open as long as possible.

Knowing that it will not just be people from Manchester who come to celebrate Eid on Wilmslow Road, owner Mr Rashid and his son, Mustafa, want to get people to see that the Curry Mile offers more than just food.



People outside Manchester will come into town to buy gifts and eat

The owner, Mr Rashid, spoke to the men: “We are sprucing up the place, getting ready and making things more accessible. We are putting the chocolate out to the children and letting people wander around and look.

“There’s no obligation to buy anything at all, we want people to treat the road like a day out. Imagine driving 40, 50 or 60 miles to get to Wimmy Road, get a bite to eat and then step into the car again to drive away, it does not make sense.

“What our intention is to keep the showroom open, let people come in and have fun. It’s a way to make the road more accessible and inviting, if all the shutters are down and only the restaurants are open, then there is nothing inviting about it.

“We’ve been known to stay open until 2 in the morning because the public is around.”



Samer
SamerMalal Shaam, from Arabic Sweets

Wilmslow Road has recently had a number of new stores open since the pandemic, one of those stores is Malal Shaam, a Syrian-based candy store that has been on the Curry Mile for four months. Sami, who works in the shop, said: “During Ramadan, the business grows steadily and it is during the evening that it gets busier.

“We expect our Baklava to be our big seller, so we’ve taken a lot of pastries, pistachios and walnuts to make everything here. We’ve seen the pictures, we know how busy it gets, and it’s one of the reasons why we have set up shop here. “



Zain Suleman, co-owner of Pitmaster
Zain Suleman, co-owner of Pitmaster

Another new business on the strip is the popular Pitmaster. A halal smokehouse serving burgers, shakes and ribs. This year will be their first Eid without any Covid restrictions and they say they expect it to be ‘hit’.

Co-owner, Zain Suleman, said: “Last time it was lockdown and it was just takeaway, so it was an experience in itself. We expect it to be rammed, it’s just a walk-in because people come from far away , so we want everyone to experience us.

“We plan to be late because it’s so busy it’s not a good idea. Economically it’s massive for the community, I do not think there will be a place that will stand empty on Eid.”

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