‘The calm before the storm’ – How Manchester’s Curry Mile is preparing for hundreds of Eid visitors


Muslims across the region will be anticipating their special day as the holy month of Ramadan nears it’s end. With just nine days left of the month, people up and down Greater Manchester will be making plans on how they are going to celebrate on Eid.

One thing that will definitely feature in people’s itineraries is a visit to the world famous Wilmslow Road in Rusholme, also known as Curry Mile. A staple in Eid celebrations, thousands of people have hit the street over the years to take part in the festivities that sees children devouring ice creams and sweets, young men and women lounging at the popular shisha spots, families tucking into some delicious food at restaurants and flash sports cars cruising up and down the road.

With Curry Mile being the place to be for Eid celebrations, how do the countless businesses on the road prepare for the big day? the MEN went down to 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 staff members don’t quite share their enthusiasm. Bash who has been working at the Walnut Persian Restaurant for eight years described Eid as ‘horrible’ due to the strenuous workload the restaurant undertakes as people celebrate for as long as three days.

Speaking to the MEN he said: “It’s horrible! So many people, so much traffic, so crowded for three days, no lies at all. It’s a big headache, we manage things by taking bookings, and people are making them already with only ten days to go.

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

“Staff don’t have a day off during the Eid, we’re expecting to serve almost 400 people that day.”

With ten days left, people have already started making plans, one of those is what clothes they are going to wear on the special day.



Bash is bracing for a busy Eid
Bash is bracing for a busy Eid

One of the busiest shops on the lead up to Ramadan are the clothes stores on Wilmslow Road. Raouf is the owner of Farouq Fabrics who have been on Wilmslow Road for 42 years.

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



It’s not just restaurants that will be busy

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

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

“We close on Eid, we’re done and dusted and deserve our day off, but the day before we’re here until 12am – 1am. Those late shifts were tiring, but you bite your tongue and get on with it.”

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

With knowledge that it won’t just be people from Manchester coming to celebrate Eid on Wilmslow Road, owner Mr Rashid and his son, Mustafa, want to make people to see that Curry Mile offers more than just food.



People from outside Manchester will come into the city to buy gifts and eat

Speaking to the MEN the owner Mr Rashid said: “We’re sprucing out the place, getting ready and making things more accessible. We’re gonna put the chocolates out for the kiddies and let people wander around and take a 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 come to Wimmy Road, getting a bite to eat and then getting back into the car to drive off, it doesn’t make sense.

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

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

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Samer
SamerMalal Shaam, from Arabic Sweets

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

“We’re expecting our Baklava to be our big seller so we’ve brought a lot of pastry, pistachios and walnuts to make everything here. We’ve seen the photos, we know how busy it gets and that’s one of the reasons why we set up a 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 smoke-house that serves burgers, shakes and ribs. This year will be their first Eid without any Covid restrictions and they say they are expecting it to be ‘rammed’.

Co owner, Zain Suleman said: “Last time it was lockdown and it was takeout only, so that was an experience in itself. We’re expecting it to be rammed, it’s a walk-in only because people come from far out so we want everybody to experience us.

“We plan on staying late, because it’s so busy, it’s a no brainer. Economically it’s massive for the community, I don’t think there’ll be any one place that’ll be empty on Eid.”




www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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