Coronavirus outbreak sees drastic sales drop for newly-opened Burnley take-away

As the spread of the deadly coronavirus sends jitters across the world, a Burnley businessman fears his new eatery may close unless local people support it.
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Geoff Bouchami (38) opened NUDL Wok and Grill, in Standish Street in November last year - creating eight jobs for local people.

Having invested a substantial amount of money into the business, for the first few months the concept, service, sales and feedback were exceptional. However, this all changed in the last week of January when Geoff noticed an 80% drop in sales.

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The Burnley-born father-of-three, who has travelled through the UK to learn his culinary skills, said: "I couldn't initially understand what was going on, but we came to the conclusion quite quickly that it must be related to the coronavirus. In fact some of the customers have joked if the business had been affected, of course I laughed it off, but inside I was cringing. I remember contacting Just Eat (online food order and delivery service) and they said all the Chinese restaurants/takeaways locally were suffering and there had been a drastic drop in online orders."

Geoff Bouchami outside his NUDL business in Standish StreetGeoff Bouchami outside his NUDL business in Standish Street
Geoff Bouchami outside his NUDL business in Standish Street

Geoff added: "It's a difficult time, even my business partner has left. I began by employing eight people, this has dropped to five and I might have to let another person go because I cannot afford to pay their wages. People seem to have little appetite for Chinese food. They are scared and they are staying away. I buy all my spices from a Chinese supermarket in Manchester and normally the place is bustling, last week it was unusually quiet. I just want to inform everyone that there is no evidence or health warning that eating Chinese food is a risk for catching the virus, with the World Health Organization saying the virus mainly spreads through contact with an infected person."

Geoff says he is confident business will improve once people become more informed.

"This is my first business venture and it is under threat of closure, but with the backing of my loyal customers and the local community, I can really make a success of it. I love cooking and I an passionate about serving my townspeople. I want people to know that all of our fresh ingredients come from the UK and we serve Indo-Chinese food - food from Indonesia and Thailand to Korea and Japan. We really want people to understand we have no connection to the virus - we've never even been to China! Any prejudice against takeaways is completely unacceptable and misinformed so please come and show your support."