A Southampton restaurant, owned by former MasterChef winner Shelina Permalloo, has been targeted by thieves just hours before the business was due to reopen.
Restaurateur and cookbook author Permalloo, who owns Lakaz Maman Mauritian Street Kitchen, told The Caterer she and her team had been planning to do a phased reopening of collections and deliveries using third-party delivery platforms, including Just Eat and Deliveroo. However, her general manager arrived at the restaurant this morning to discover that "opportunist" thieves had smashed in the door and stolen the tablets required to coordinate deliveries. Consequently their reopening plans for today have had to be put on hold.
She said: "It's the final hit for the industry when things like this happen. As an industry we've had so many hits. Everything was behind the bar, so you couldn't see it. They also took out the till and disseminated it."
Having been closed for 125 days, Permalloo said she knew that lots of customers had planned to order takeaway today and that she and her team had spent the last two days preparing food in anticipation of a busy relaunch. Before lockdown, the restaurant had served between 100-150 covers a day.
She said the team is now focusing on trying to replace the tablets and would try to reopen tomorrow instead.
Lakaz Maman, which is Creole for "Mum's House", opened in Southampton in 2016. It became popular for showcasing the best of modern Mauritian Street food "with a modern twist", serving up authentic home-made recipes, including a "magic bowl" – a Mauritian-inspired dish made with soy sauce, ginger and chives and served with steamed rice and a fried egg.
Shelina Permalloo was crowned winner of BBC's MasterChef in 2012, the first female winner since Wahaca's Thomasina Miers took the title in 2005.
Picture: Shelina Permalloo/Twitter