AN Indian restaurant in Stalybridge opened specially one evening to serve almost 400 free meals for National Health Service staff and carers as a thank you for their efforts during the coronavirus pandemic.
Employees from Candolim dropped off individually bagged meals at A&E and the intensive care unit (ICU) at Tameside Hospital while NHS workers and carers were also able to collect food from the Mottram Road eaterie.
“It was a small token of our appreciation and nothing compared to what they have done for us,” explained Bilal Alam, manager of the family-run business which employs 18 people.
“We have just given away a few free meals, but they put their lives at risk every day.
“What they witness day in, day out must be traumatic and, until now, I don’t think they have had the recognition for the job they do.
“We spoke to many of them when they came to the restaurant and heard stories about their work.”
Candolim was shut for five weeks and only reopened at the beginning of May from Thursday to Sunday evenings for takeaways.
That prompted them to devote Wednesday, May 6 to NHS staff and carers.
Bilal admitted it was a step into the unknown reopening for takeaways but added business was “fantastic”.
“We were overwhelmed by orders over the weekend, both online and by telephone. There was a time we had to turn off the phone for a time because we had too many to handle,” he added.
Bilal said they were better prepared for the bank holiday weekend.
He continued: “One of the good things about lockdown is that people are doing a lot more cooking at home.
“But it is still nice sometimes to sit back and let someone else do it as we are finding with the takeaways.”
Some Candolim staff are on the Government furlough scheme as there has been no work for front of house staff.
Bilal added once lockdown restrictions are eased there is no reason why the restaurant could not reopen.
“We have two vast areas and ample space to ensure distancing is maintained. We are also looking at introducing screens which would also help,” he said.
• Candolim is open Thursday to Sunday between 4pm and 10pm. To order, telephone
0161 338 2959 or go to www.candolim71.co.uk