In the Press

The Simla Oswestry - In the local press

Simla Celebrates 40th Anniversary
Report by Naomi Penrose - Shropshire Star - May 2016
When restaurant owner George Miah opened up Oswestry's first Indian restaurant 40 years ago, he had a battle on his hands - trying to get the English palate to swap from its favourite of fish and chips to authentic Bangladeshi cuisine. This month marks 40 years since Mr Miah opened Simla for business in Beatrice Street, Oswestry in May 1976.

Born in Bangladesh, Mr Miah, 62, moved to Shropshire with his uncle at the age of 13 for a better quality of life and to be able to support his family, and although Mr Miah is a much-loved member of the community who can't walk through Oswestry's town centre without stopping and chatting to people, things haven't always been smooth sailing.

"I love Oswestry," he said "I love the people here. It's my life but the early days were hard days. We took a lot of abuse. At least once a month a window would be smashed. People would leave without paying and there was a flight in the restaurant at least once a fortnight.
"It was difficult, but there's none of that any more. In fact the people who did that will come in now and tell their grandchildren what they did and how wrong it was, and I find that quite special.

"We don't have that any more. Things have come a long way." Mr Miah started working part-time at Shiraz restaurant in Shrewsbury in 1968, before working in Dudley for six years where  he met his wife Julie. But Mr Miah said his uncle didn't want him working for others forever, he wanted to see him branch out and run a place of his own.

"My uncle would just hop on and off buses hoping to find a suitable place for me. He looked in Ludlow, Market Drayton, Bishop's Castle but when he saw what's now Simla it was perfect and readily on a plate, " he said.
"So I asked the landlord for six months rental of the property but he asked if I could try a year really to see how it goes and the rest is that."
Mr Miah recalls the early days when customers would opt for English meals such as fish and chips at the restaurant.

"To begin with I'd say 85 per cent of customers would go for traditional English meals. For example, if I served 30 to 40 meals of a lunchtime, only two of those would be curries," he said.
"It wasn't until the early 1980's when I noticed a shift in preference, when chicken tikka masala was the in thing and that was actually made for a western palate."

During his time in Oswestry, Mr Miah has become one of the most popular members of the community, immersing himself in community life through fund-raising and his general warm nature.

Recently Mr Miah was honoured for his work within the Bangladeshi community in Shropshire, as he was a leading light in the opening of the prayer centre in Shrewsbury and is chairman of the Bangladeshi Welfare Society.
He was given an award for his efforts by Shrewsbury County Council.
Simla has staged an annual fund-raising dinner for good causes since 1988, which Mr Miah estimates in total between £70,000 to £80,000 has been raised for charity through those events.

To mark the restaurant's 40th anniversary two charity nights have taken place over the past fortnight - both of which completely sold out.
He said, "We could've held more nights and been sold out five or six times over, people really do support the events which is wonderful.

"One thing I've never done is keep an exact count oh how much money we raise because when you give to charity you don't look at how much you give, the important thing is that you are giving to charity.
"I think people in the town have a lot of respect for that and respect me and you can't buy that, that's priceless."

Although Mr Miah has put his heart and soul into his business, he knows that it would not have been going for four decades without the customers.
"The customers are king. They have the control. People think it's me that keeps Simla running.
"It's actually the customers and I'm incredibly grateful for that. The customers are like family actually." he said.
Mr Miah and his wife Julie, 62, have three children, daughter Seema and sons Shoheb and Shaheen, as well as how being grandparents to Seema's daughter Mehnaz.

Simla Celebrates 40th Anniversary - Shropshire Star May 2016
"My granddaughter is my inspiration and my family are just incredible," he said.
"This career path has meant so much sacrifice for them, I haven't been able to take my wife out and about because of work, and I haven't always been able to do things for my children because of that.
"It's been sacrifice for us all and I couldn't thank them enough for putting up with me and my unsociable hours and being understanding of that."

George Miah of Simla Oswestry Gold Award Winner

George Miah Gold Winner of the Shrewsbury Community Award – acknowledges the work of community groups and individuals who have contributed to the social well-being of the town.

Simla Oswestry Wins Coveted Community Award
Readers of the Oswestry Chronical were asked to nominate the business they felt did the most for their community. “We thank you, our customers and the community of Oswestry for helping us to win this wonderful award”. George Miah
The Simla at Oswestry holds an annual charity event to raise money for local and international good causes. George’s family and staff work tirelessly to raise an ever increasing target for their charity of the year.
This year is the 40th year that George Miah and his family have served traditional Indian food in Oswestry.
“My family are proud to part of this community and since we started our charity events we have raised something in the order of £70,000 to £80,000.  I am privileged to hold this award but I share it with my staff and my customers without whom I could not have achieved this award”. George Miah
Oswestry and Border Chronicle
Proud Winners of Community Award

Oswestry and Border Chronicle 6th August 2015 - Simla Restaurant happy to support good causes.
The Chronicle's "We  Mean Business" campaign celebrates Oswestry s businesses. This week we celebrate the Simla Tandoori restaurant on Beatrice Street.

The Simla restaurant will be celebrating 40 years of business in Oswestry next year.
For owner George Miah being part of the community and helping good causes s an important part of his business.
The restaurant recently celebrated 39 years in business by hosting a charity dinner, raising more than £2,500.
Mr Miah has been hosting charity dinners since 1988.
He said: "My family and my partner Julie would like to thank everyone who supported us on the evening. on the night there was live music, raffles, auctions and a four course dinner to raise funds for the charity's. There were 84 people who attended".
This year the main beneficiaries were Hope House Children's Hospice and IQRA International, a Bangladeshi charity which provides treatment for disabled people who wouldn't be able to otherwise afford it. Each charity received £1,200 and Mr Miah said they were also able to give £100 to Once Upon A smile and £50 each towards the Nepal Earthquake Appeal and to feed hungry children in Sudan.


Oswestry Review Magazine - August 2015 - Simla Charity Night


Simla Restaurant Oswestry Annual Charity Night - 39th Anniversary Event

Shropshire Star Review 19th June 2014 - Cash boost on menu after Oswestry charity night.

A restaurant celebrated 38 years in business by hosting a charity dinner.

Held every year, the proceeds of the Simla Bangladeshi restaurant event in Oswestry are shared between charities, the beneficiaries this year being Hope House Hospice and the Kenyan Schools Project, both of which received £900 each.

Owner George Miah said: “My family and my partner Julie would like to thank everyone who supported us on the evening. All the charities we donate to are obviously deserving but one of the charities we helped this year, The Kenyan Schools Project, I feel especially close to, as a late friend of mine, David Lawson, raised a lot of money for the charity, so to build on the work he’s already done feels very rewarding.”

Read more..

Shropshire Star Reviewer's rating *** Sue Austin returns to an old favourite with fond memories and is delighted it has not changed.

However much a pub or restaurant has a place in the tradition of a town it will not survive if it does not move with the times, writes Sue Austin.

The Simla Restaurant in Oswestry, has been part of the town's social scene for more than three decades and it would have been easy for it to become stuck in a comfortable rut.

But on a recent visit it was good to see that the eatery has managed to combine the best of the old and the new.

It was a favourite place of mine to eat as a teenager growing up in Oswestry.

And so I was delighted when son Joe chose it when asked where he wanted to go on his sixteenth birthday, some days after his official and somewhat manic party.

In this belt-tightening climate I wondered if the restaurant was going to be too quiet on Tuesday night.

But when we arrived there were diners at several tables, showing the strength of its reputation.

Despite not dining out much these days, Mel and I were greeted like friends by the Simla's owner, George Miah. He and his wife Julie brought Indian and Bangladeshi cuisine to Oswestry in the mid-seventies.

The couple stayed in the town to raise a family and become a much respected part of the community.

They were recently honoured for their charity work, holding fund-raising events in the restaurant and each year giving a class at their local primary school the chance to sample some of their culture, dressing in authentic dress and trying some of their food.

Joe and his friend Rob, both now turned sixteen, were chuffed to be able to order a beer or cider with their meal.

It was strange to see the lads having a drink while designated driver mum stuck to her boring jug of water with ice and lemon.

The obligatory popadoms were soon on the table with the usual arrays of pickles and chutneys and while we ate I noticed there were other families with teenagers enjoying a relaxed evening out.

The Simla, Oswestry
Knowing the portion sizes are generous at the Simla we had agreed to share two starters between the four of us and soon our mixed tandoori starters £4.25 arrived.

George neatly divided them at the table and then left us to share them out, a nice mix of chicken, lamb, king prawns and kebab.

It was interesting to see the lads choosing their main courses, both veterans of the restaurant thanks to birthday meals and cricket club dinners they already knew what they liked.

Joe plumped for chicken tikka masala (£8.95) including rice while Rob went for chicken sagwala (£6.95) and I sighed, knowing that my lifetime battle to get my "little boy" to eat any cooked vegetable had failed miserably.

Hubby as usual was still perplexed by the wide and varied menu. As a teenager I was ashamed when on our first date there he plumped for steak and chips.

But over the years he graduated to tandoori, then a mild korma and now enjoys most of what's on offer.

This time he went for a lamb balti (£8.95) with naan while I chose the hot and sour prawn pathia (£5.95).

When the main courses arrived I was delighted to find that, like the starters, the meals were presented on beautiful white china.

The stainless steel balti bowl has been something I have had to endure over the years in many an Indian restaurant but thankfully no longer at the Simla.

I was soon bartering with the three men to get spoonfuls of the different dishes on my plate and we attacked the tasty food trying each others nan and rice with gusto.

But even with the healthy appetites of the lads the dishes were just too much for us.

It was too nice to be wasted and when the waiter took my plate away they immediately agreed to let me have a doggy bag.

We certainly could not manage a sweet.

But embarrassing mum had brought a birthday cake and the staff arrived with cake and candle, gathering around to help with a rendition of Happy Birthday to Joe. Other diners joined in even offering to take a group photo.

It had been a really relaxing evening with good food and I left happy in the knowledge that the Simla has definitely found the recipe for success that has lasted more than 30 years.

Read more..