An award-winning restaurant has thanked its “massive family” of staff and customers for its success in the Guardian’s recent Food Awards competition.

The Star of India, in High Road, Leytonstone, claimed the position of overall winner for the 2013 Food Awards despite competition from 47 other restaurants, takeaways and cafes across 10 categories.

And owner Shah Ahmed, who took over the business from his father, who died in 2000, praised the staff for making the Indian eatery a popular destination for diners since its opening in 1971.

He said: “It’s so exciting, we’re so relieved. We’ve been winning all these years since 2005.

"Obviously it’s a massive commitment from staff. It’s the same ownership, same management, same food all those years.

“It’s like a massive happy family really. We get third generation customers now whose parents and grandparents have eaten here too. It’s amazing, we’re really proud of our success and we’re proud to be part of that community.”

Mr Ahmed, some of whose staff have been with the restaurant for a dozen years or more, said they make customers feel special and welcome but that he has changed little since his father ran the business.

He said: “It’s the same curry just a different dish. We serve it on china plates now instead of stainless steel.

“The recipes are great and people love to come here. They hold birthday parties, hen and stag dos here. It’s nice to see people celebrating big events with us.”

He added that though the high street is changing, there is a core of shops which means people will keep coming.

“It’s a great place to be, Leytonstone. We have a number of well-established businesses which keep people coming even though times are tough.

“There’s the Red Lion Pub, Horizon Cafe, lots of others. The Tesco car park means people can park up for a few hours and actually go round the shops. It attracts people to the area.”

Mr Ahmed will throw a party celebrating the win with Leyton MP John Cryer coming attending as guest of honour on Wednesday, July 17.


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