Warm-hearted restaurant owner delivering freshly cooked meals to Burnley vulnerable

A Burnley restaurant owner is spending his days and nights cooking and delivering meals free of charge to vulnerable people across the town.
Usha owner Ibby Ali (centre) with Esuf Ali and Zia UddinUsha owner Ibby Ali (centre) with Esuf Ali and Zia Uddin
Usha owner Ibby Ali (centre) with Esuf Ali and Zia Uddin

Ibby Ali, who runs Usha Restaurant in Rossendale Road, has delivered more than 100 hot meals in the last two weeks and said it was the least he could do to help support those in need.

Through the restaurant's Facebook page, staff have been asking customers to let them know of any elderly, vulnerable people who would benefit from a freshly cooked meal during lockdown.

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Following an incredible response, Ibby said he was now calling on the 'Usha family' to nominate any key workers, especially those who are working in the NHS, so he could show his appreciation.

"What we realised after the doing the initial appeal is that there are a lot of key workers who can't get out themselves because of how busy they are working. We want our customers to nominate these NHS heroes. We will randomly pick five names from the list, and reward them with a £20 voucher each.

"All our NHS heroes are winners really though so we're also offering 10% off their orders from Usha's takeaway service.

"We're going to carry on delivering meals to the vulnerable as well, so please keep nominating. We have been overwhelmed with the response. I'm cooking during the day and delivering at night. It's definitely keeping me busy."

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Ibby said the past few weeks had been, like for most in the restaurant sector, tough. The majority of his staff have been furloughed, and he is topping up the remaining 20% of all salaries himself.

"Our staff deserve that," he said. "They work so hard. They work long hours, have been with us for years, and they never complain. It is the least we can do."

The takeaway arm of the restaurant reopened two weeks ago, but Ibby said if they didn't get back to normal service soon he did not know what the future would hold.

"This is our 19th year. We turn 20 in February and we are determined to make it to then. The Government are talking about restaurants reopening with 30% capacity. That would kill us off I think. It would mean that everything would go back to normal except for our sales. It just wouldn't work. If the Government want us to remain closed then they have to support us.

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"Restaurants were one of the first things to be closed fully and we could be the last to reopen. It's definitely hit us hard. When we do reopen I hope the public come out and support us because we will really need it."