A RESTAURANT in Oxfordshire which was once a favourite of David Cameron’s has been serving hot meals for free to the community throughout the coronavirus pandemic.

Shaan restaurant in Witney has been open for both takeaway and collection, giving free meals to a host of key workers.

The popular Corn Street venue serves Bangladeshi and Indian cuisine, and since March 20, three days prior to Boris Johnson’s lockdown announcement, has been serving up meals for its community.

Abdul Chowdhury has been manager at the store for 10 years, and estimates that it has given out up to 2,000 meals during lockdown.

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He said: “We’ve been serving food across Oxfordshire to NHS staff, key workers, the vulnerable, the police and the military.

“Each meal consists of one main, one rice and one naan which is all completely free of charge.

“We were all told to stay at home but these key workers are working very hard to protect us.

“They’re our loyal customers who are looking after our nation and deserve these meals.

“People keep coming back every week, maybe even twice a week.

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“It’s hard to say say how many meals we’ve given out but maybe somewhere between 1,500 and 2,000.

“It’s been great to do such a service for the community.”

Mr Chowdhury, 47, said if anyone wishes to claim a complimentary meal, they can do so by calling the restaurant.

Shaan, which opened in 1999, is also open for the public, as well as key workers and the vulnerable.

Prior to the coronavirus crisis, it had never done home deliveries before, with all trade taking place in its 70-seater restaurant.

Oxford Mail:

Mr Chowdhury said he expects that the delivery service will continue after the pandemic, as it will be a tough time for restaurants.

“At the beginning we were open seven nights a week and we did that for the first five weeks but then we realised we couldn’t keep up with that with the staff numbers so we cut it down to just Monday to Thursday and Sunday too,” he said.

To ensure a safe working space and social distancing is in place, Shaan is currently operating with a reduced number of staff.

During his time as Witney’s MP and Prime Minister, Mr Cameron was known to frequent the restaurant regularly.

Oxford Mail:

“David Cameron visited whilst he was Prime Minister and wrote in our visitors’ book,” Mr Chowdhury said.

“I know that he liked our food so much, he was always very nice and happy to have his picture taken too.

“There are hundreds of restaurants in Oxfordshire he could’ve gone to to but he came to us.”

One beneficiary of the free meals has been the officers at Witney police station.

A spokesperson for Thames Valley Police said: “We are hugely grateful to all businesses, organisations and members of the public who have gone out of their way to help and support our officers during this pandemic.”

Shaan is delivering within a six mile radius. To enquire about a meal, contact the restaurant on 01993 779339.