Family-owned restaurant gives away 15,000 meals to key workers and vulnerable

The owner of a family-owned restaurant in Essex was praised and given the ‘Local Community Hero’ award after giving away 15,000 free meals to key workers and the vulnerable.

In times of crisis like the one we're facing due to Covid-19, many people, especially the vulnerable end up relying on acts of kindness to survive these tough times. During the lockdown, many small communities came together to support one another.

Restaurant owner Sharif is one of these incredibly kind people. He owns an Asian restaurant in Essex and gave away 15,000 free meals to key workers, NHS staff, the elderly and the vulnerable.

Wanting to give back to his “loyal customers”, Sharif used his resources and every tool he had at his disposal to send hot food, water and supportive messages to the less fortunate.

“Many people broke into tears” receiving their care packages on their doorstep – and the kindness did not go unnoticed.

Earlier this month, Sharif received the well-deserved ‘Local Community Hero’ award at the House of Lords, but stressed, “I don’t do anything for recognition”.

Sharif Uddin, 37, is the owner of DUSK fine dining restaurant and the family-run Kushi restaurant and takeaway chain in Essex and Romford.

Throughout lockdown, Sharif and his passionate team donated 15,000 free meals to frantic key workers, NHS staff, the elderly and the vulnerable.

“Community is very important to our restaurants,” Sharif said. “Our loyal customers have supported us for years by continuing to visit and order takeaway food. Their money and support allowed us to give something back.”

“When the pandemic hit, I realised that I had the building, staff and tools to help. With local food donations, we were able to provide hot food, water and messages of support to our communities,” Sharif said.

“There were some individuals that didn’t want to ask for help, so we knocked on their doors with surprise care packages.

“Many people broke into tears and were so thankful for the support.”

Kushi translates to ‘happy’ in Bengali, and “we all know food makes us Kushi,” Sharif said.

“Even during the darkest times, a little smile goes a long way.”

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As well as donating free meals, Sharif works closely with local schools, hosts fundraising dinners and invites children into his restaurants to gain work experience in the hospitality industry – and have fun along the way.

On September 7, Sharif received the ‘Local Community Hero’ award at the House of Lords.

“I don’t do anything for recognition, but I feel very honoured and privileged to have been presented with the award,” Sharif said.

“It represents my entire team. From the chefs to the kitchen floor staff to the waiters, they make our restaurants what they are today. I am very proud of them all.”

ACF chairman Yawar Khan presented Sharif with the ‘Local Community Hero’ award and said his charity work stood out.

“Sharif thoroughly deserves this award for such perseverance, resilience, innovation, and generosity in the face of such personal adversity,” Yawar said.

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