An award-winning chef has insisted that the sale of takeaway meals are essential to securing the long-term future of his family business.

Khaled Miah runs the Zyka Indian restuarant, on Priestpopple in Hexham, alongside his brothers Rashid and Mashuk.

But unlike most other eateries in the district, the stylish restaurant has not hosted diners since the first lockdown began in March.

Even when restrictions were eased in the summer, the Miahs did not believe social distancing could be adhered to due to the limited space and layout of their restaurant.

Instead, they kept the kitchen open for takeaway offerings, while embarking on a wholesale refurbishment of the restaurant to increase space and introduce Covid-safety measures.

“The key message is that we have always been offering a takeaway service, and we continue to do so.

“That is important to us because we have lost a lot of income by not being able to open the restaurant itself.

“I’d like to thank our loyal customers who have continued to support us and remind everyone that if you want a takeaway meal, we are happy to serve you.”

Takeaways are crucial to keeping the business ticking over until the Government allows restaurants to fully open again.

Khaled said the ongoing refurbishment is just weeks away from completion, and if given the go-ahead by the Government, Zyka could be set for a full relaunch before Christmas.

An exciting new look for the restaurant is nearing completion and – without giving too much away – local traders have done a superb job of redesigning and remodelling the venue.

The large bar area which once took up much space has now gone, with a replacement created in an alcove to allow for a larger dining area.

Crucially, Zyka now has toilet facilities both upstairs and downstairs, with a disabled convenience on the ground floor.

Khaled added: “Everything has been done with Covid safety in mind. We previously couldn’t open because we only had toilets on one floor. We couldn’t have people crossing on the stairs, and it wasn’t viable to operate with very few spaced-out tables on one floor.

“When we do reopen we can use both floors safely – tables will be suitably spaced with dividers between them and there will be perspex at the bar.

“For now we are relying on takeaways – please support us – and soon we we will welcome you into our brand new restaurant.”