Mr Shamsuddin Khan is, by far, one of the least sung yet truest heroes of not only the UK curry industry but the nation’s business community at large. A stalwart and hugely iconic and popular figure in the industry without a single recognition, Shamsuddin Khan has been running one of Britain’s oldest and most loved curry houses.
He is an old school businessman who has principally remained indifferent to a modern, digital world that is entrenched in social media platforms and the Internet with no online presence or website, yet who boasts a remarkable and unrivalled business model and success story that is dictated and guided by the principles of hard work, passion and vision.
Mr Shamsuddin Khan is truly emblematic of the wealth of first generation, immigrant settler success stories in the UK. He was born on 18th June 1935, arriving here in February 1955 at the age of 19 with only £3 in his pocket, in search of a better life. As with most first-generation migrants, the aim was to work hard, save money and return to his country.
His first job was in a hamburger restaurant in London’s Leicester Square as a kitchen assistant, earning £4.50p a week. In 1958, just three years later, Mr Khan had saved just enough money to open Maharani Restaurant in Clapham alongside two partners who later sold their shares to him. He was the first and youngest restaurant owner of Britain’s curry community.
In the early days of trading the restaurant could accommodate 50 customers, later extending to host 150 and now serving well into its third generation, continuing to serve curry to its loyal diners. Maharani has become a geographical curry landmark in Clapham and across South West London. Today, Shamsuddin Khan is still serving customers at the age of 79 with no plan to hang up his apron and retire anytime soon.
Balancing work with home life, Mr Khan enjoys a happy family life, married off two sons and one daughter; Mr. Ashraf Uddin Khan, aged 48, who graduated from the UK and is currently working for the Foreign Ministry in serving; Mr. Akbar Uddin Khan, aged 46, who graduated from the UK and is currently Captain of Etihad Airways; and Mrs. Anawara Khanoma, aged 43, who graduated from the UK and is currently working as a teacher for an American private school in Dubai. As you can see, while simultaneously putting his all into his restaurant business, he didn’t compromise his dedication to his family, instilling in them the same ethics that have today contributed to the success they enjoy in their respective fields, with the value of education and hard work at the heart of their upbringing.
Maharani Restaurant is a big part of Shamsuddin Khan’s life. His attachment to the restaurant and his customers is as strong today as it’s always been, with the memories of all of the milestone events and occasions that ever took place in his restaurant – political, social and commercial – as fresh in his mind today as if they only took place yesterday. His restaurant also used to provide a backdrop and location for many politicians from Bangladesh, playing a fundamental role in the events of 1971 and 1975 – something Mr Khan is immensely proud of.
At the heart of his business life also lies a profound commitment to philanthropic endeavours and, while being a key contributor to the UK economy and Great Britain which has been his home since 1955, he still plays an active role in various activities in Bangladesh. He is Chair of the Beanibazar Cancer Hospital which will be opened very soon to serve the deprived people in Bangladesh with many contributors from the UK; owner of two tea gardens; and Director of the Shajalal Bank. He has and continues to make an enormous contribution to the communities of both the UK and Bangladesh. He is the former President UK Awami League and lifetime supporter of present Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina government.
As they say, behind the success of every man is the support of a great woman, and Shamsuddin Khan is the first to express who he could not have achieved any of this without the unconditional support of his wife, Soforun Nessa Khanom.
Shamsuddin Khan is truly a champion of not only the UK curry industry but of our nation as a whole – a true inspiration and shining example of migrational success in the UK. He thinks that Bangladesh has a huge potentiality in the curry industry in future. The people of Bangladesh are gradually being introduced with the different types of curry. He hopes, the curry industry has a bright future in Bangladesh.