A new Birmingham restaurant has won the hearts of the people by employing the city’s homeless as kitchen staff.
Waqar Mirza, one of the owners of Erdington’s Kebab and Grill Co, provides meals for individuals supported by Birmingham Homeless Outreach.
Since opening in December, three of the 10-strong staff have been hired from the homeless community and trained to work in the kitchens.
Waqar, aged 32, said: “Why not change lives if you can? When I took them on, they had no confidence. Now their confidence has grown. I want this to be a community diner, I want it to be a community hub. I want to plough something back into schools and the the people. Nothing is impossible.”
It’s the London businessman’s first venture into the restaurant industry after a lucrative career in construction. He and his team hope to open five Kebab and Grill Co outlets in Birmingham before spreading the brand north.
He said: “London’s my playground, a place with a huge diversity of cuisine… Brazilian, Singapore, Malaysian. When I came to Birmingham, I used to continually whinge about the lack of choice. One day a friend told me to stop whinging and do something about it.”
He has ploughed £150,000 into creating an upmarket eatery in a Slade Road location surrounded by cheaper takeaways and restaurants. It’s a diner with a twist, with head chef Ibrahim cooking with the traditional method of charcoal. And, unusually, doner meat is made on the premises – not bought in, and it is made from 100 per cent lamb.
“It’s a lot more expensive, but you can taste the difference,” said Waqar. “Everyone wants good food – some people can afford it, some people can’t. I buy locally, but I don’t source locally. All our lamb is from Ireland and of the the finest quality.
“I’m a risk taker. I believe that as long as my food is good, people will come. I knew this was not going to be a walk in the park, but it is happening. I’ve always wanted to open a top quality diner, not a takeaway.” One step from a takeaway to a top quality diner would be the implementation of POS systems like we see in so many restaurants nowadays, from companies like https://restaurantpossystems.com/best-restaurant-pos/.