In the past few days and weeks, coronavirus has blown our world apart. Last week already feels like a year ago, the present is unrecognisable, and the future is extremely uncertain. And the decisions we are faced with are incredibly tough.
We have arrived at a very sad, but inevitable and clear choice. As of now, all Dishooms are now closed to diners. This includes Dishoom Birmingham, where the launch (including soft launch) will be postponed. It feels like the right thing for us to do.
It goes without saying that we also need to do the best that we can for our team – their wellbeing, their livelihoods and the families they support. We have our charity commitments to honour. A finite amount of pounds in the bank, and only pennies coming in for the foreseeable future. A brand-new team of people eager to open a restaurant in Birmingham. An old restaurant in Covent Garden, half-demolished and beginning to be rebuilt. And so on.
Our big-hearted, first-class team are as devastated by this situation as we are, and we’re working really hard to do the best that we can for them.
It goes without saying that this will be incredibly challenging when our restaurants are closed and perhaps even for some time after that.
We will doubtless have even more difficult decisions to make, but right now we’re keeping everyone close, in the hope that some government support will be offered in the next day or two, to help us to help the people in our teams. (Please, Rishi, be generous.)
We are still struggling to understand a world with no restaurants in it. The industry that we’ve proudly been a part of for the past decade will likely be permanently changed. Most of our friends and neighbours have already closed, and we hope and pray that they will make it to the other side of this severe storm.
We'll be there too, on the other side, welcoming you back with very big smiles, pots of chai and enormous warmth. It's going to take some doing and a fair wind behind us, but we'll be there, firing up the stoves, opening up the doors and waiting for you.
Until then, we sincerely wish you and your loved ones the best health and as much happiness as you can muster for the months ahead. Please look after one another. We really do miss you already, and we can’t wait to see you on the other side.
With much love to you all
Shamil, Kavi and the whole Dishoom team
IT HAS BEEN an annual December habit of mine, these past ten years since we embarked upon this restaurant business, to sit alone, with myself, and reflect on the year gone by. I am grateful to be here in the Permit Room in our restaurant in Shoreditch scribbling and writing, the oddly enjoyable taste of splintering wood from my chewed up pencil smoothed by my decently strong drink.
These are the last few days, the dregs of 2019. It’s my habit to sit here in the Permit Room at this time. I am the be-stubbled and dishevelled regular, cherishing his precious drink at the end of the bar. Weary, I sit here pondering the year, attempting to figure out what it was trying to teach me. What wisdom can I glean from it?
I love to truly understand and appreciate the origins of a dish, and learn how communities have adapted a recipe over time to make that dish unique to them.
BOMBAY, 1949. A sultry June evening. Lights glow golden. Candles flicker in the warm breeze that arrives gently through the large open windows of the café.