The owners of a popular Chinese takeaway were thrilled when they found out they have been shortlisted for two accolades at a national business awards.
The Tiger Bowl in Stafford has been nominated in the ‘Business Hero’ and ‘Positive Impact’ categories in the Small Medium Enterprise (SME) National Business Awards 2020 for their work during the Covid crisis.
The family-run business is owned by Sajith Jayaweera and his wife Jessy Chen, who is the head chef. The takeaway serves a variety of traditional Chinese foods including seaweed and their popular salt and pepper chips.
Sajith, aged 38, from Stafford, said: “It was two weeks ago when we found out and we were really excited, we didn’t expect it.
“Your usual reaction is there are so many big names who have applied for it and you are just a small business but we didn’t think we would be shortlisted but here we are.
“All of my staff are over the moon.”
Sajith, Jessy and the staff have worked tirelessly throughout lockdown, which has been one of their busiest ever periods.
He added: “When we initially started as a family business it was really famous. After the lockdown we were known to so many people because there were only two Chinese takeaways open in Stafford and we were one of them.
“We have a very strong customer base and are busy every day. We opened six days a week throughout the pandemic which is how we made more new customers. We were really busy. It came to a level where we could not even manage.
“We struggled to keep up with the stock because every time we prepared the stock the next day, we could see we were going to run out. All my staff put in a lot of effort and came together, they started work early and prepped everything.
“Some days we had to disconnect the online order system because we could not keep up. We had 5 drivers working for us but we could still not manage some of the orders.
“We felt really good there was a high demand. We feel sorry for the businesses that had to shut down but it gave us the chance to meet new customers.
“One thing we strongly believe in is if we serve the purpose of the customers, that will work. We served quality food and our new customers became regulars.”
When the lockdown started in March the Tiger Bowl team initiated ‘Project Victory’ to help the community during the difficult time. It was this project which secured the takeaway its nomination for the awards.
Phase one was called ‘The Spirit of Giving Back’ and during this time the team gave away more than 700 meals to key workers, including those at the West Midlands Ambulance Service and St George’s Hospital.
‘Championing Recognition’ was phase two of the project where 12 members of the community were treated to a family meal delivered to their doors – for the unsung work they have done to help another person during the crisis.
Finally phase three saw the takeaway support their local pub, the Waggon and Horses. The project called ‘Community Lighthouse’ saw the takeaway give vouchers to their customers to spend at the pub – to a value of £300 in total which was paid to the pub.
Sajith said: “Our mission is to keep the community at the heart of everything we do and if we do it that way it will help us to keep that bridge of communication between the community and they will guide us towards the right direction.
“We thought there are people in the community who are helping the elderly people or helping students who are staying at home through online classes. We wanted to celebrate those individuals who are silently helping others.
“People voted for 12 brilliant champions in the community and we treated them with family meals.
“We submitted all of these things to the SME national business awards. They selected us from a public voting category because our customers voted for us.”
The awards night is due to be held at Wembley Stadium on December 4.
He said: “If we get something we are raising it for Stafford. It’s a night that none of my staff have been to before, it is a new territory but it’s a new opportunity for us to reach the next level.
“It gives you the opportunity to meet new investors and new business ideas, it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity,” Sajith added.
“In a traditional Chinese takeaway you will walk in and find there are traditional Chinese chefs cooking. At Tiger Bowl we are working towards a different business model.”
He added: “I believe diversity is the biggest trend. We are generating jobs for the community. In our takeaway the head chef is Chinese, the second chef is an Englishman. I’ve got a Portuguese woman working in the kitchen. I’ve got a Sri Lankan lady working at the counter and my drivers are from Romania.
“It’s a massive diverse place which is our strength. We believe the skills are transferable. In the future we are going to expand within Staffordshire.
“2020 is a big year for us because we are planning to expand the business and start our own apprenticeship scheme where we find someone from the community and give them a placement and they may have their own business under the Tiger Bowl franchise.”
Article source: https://www.stokesentinel.co.uk/news/popular-chinese-takeaway-up-national-4400246