Popular Glasgow takeaway closes as owner hits out at council for 'losing everything'

The works blocked the view to passing trade around Alaa's <i>(Image: Supplied)</i>
The works blocked the view to passing trade around Alaa's (Image: Supplied)

THE distraught owner of a Glasgow takeaway has told how he lost £60,000 after council bosses allowed a series of metal cabins to be placed outside his business – leaving it 'invisible' to customers.

Alaa Asaad claims he lost his life savings as a result of the local authority’s decision to let the work containers be stationed outside the once-thriving Alaa’s on Pitt Street.

The entrepreneur saw his turnover plummet by 90%, making it impossible to cover rent and wages, and brought in just £5 in takings the day he pulled down the shutters.

He claims council chiefs ignored his plea to clear the street and says he is now struggling to survive after being forced to take the tough decision to call time.

Glasgow Times: Alaa Asaad
Glasgow Times: Alaa Asaad

Alaa Asaad (Image: Supplied)

Alaa said: “I’ve lost everything because the council thought it was acceptable to effectively make us invisible to customers. I’m devastated.

“We relied on passing trade from theatres, hotels, office staff and folk parking outside to pop in for a bite to eat, but as soon as these horrible cabins appeared, people pretty much stopped coming in. Our profits started going down over the weeks, initially by around half, then 60% and eventually 90% by the time we closed.

“You can't see us as well as before from Sauchiehall Street and we weren't visible to anyone going up or down Bath Street. It was soul-destroying watching a business I worked so hard to build disappear before my eyes.

“On our last day I made just £5 and that’s when I knew it was over. I had no way to pay the rent or bills and every penny I’d made I had put back into the business to try and stay afloat. I was left with nothing and had to take the heartbreaking decision to walk away.”

Alaa, from Govan, trained as a chef before securing top jobs in the kitchens of Cameron House and the Crowne Plaza in Glasgow. He decided to follow his dream of running his own diner and ploughed £60,000 into opening Alaa’s in June last year.

READ MORE: Kitchen staff walk out of 13th Note in Glasgow amid safety fears

He was preparing to celebrate a highly successful first 12 months when he was notified that building work was set to take place nearby. A metal fence and series of steel storage containers were then placed on his doorstep.

Glasgow Times:
Glasgow Times:

He said: “We were doing well and just about to celebrate the first year of Alaa’s when I received a letter from the council saying that work would be taking place in the area.

“I thought it would just be temporary roadworks or something like that until I arrived one morning to find these massive containers sitting outside.

“I couldn’t believe it and contacted the council but was told there was nothing they could do as they were needed for works nearby.

“Our footfall collapsed almost overnight. People started to think we were closed because they couldn’t see us.

Glasgow Times: Alaa Asaad and the view from his shop's front door.
Glasgow Times: Alaa Asaad and the view from his shop's front door.

Alaa Asaad and the view from his shop's front door. (Image: Supplied)

“Eventually two council officials visited, and I explained the detrimental impact this was having on my livelihood, but they said permission had been given to place the units there and nothing could be done.

“I was practically begging them to help me because I knew that I wouldn’t survive. I just couldn’t believe how cruel it all was.

“I came to Glasgow seven years ago to follow my dream and now it is in tatters."

READ MORE: Glasgow firm Thompsons and GMB Scotland fight for Mortons workers

The 29-year-old closed his doors on May 18 and says that losing the business has taken a huge toll on his health and wellbeing, as well as hitting him hard financially.

He added: “It was my dream to have my own place and offer the finest quality food. I just can’t believe how it ended, especially as we were doing so well against already difficult circumstances with the cost-of-living crisis.

“I’ve lost everything, and to be honest, this has left me broken. I’m suffering from stress and anxiety and my mood is so low that I’m speaking to my doctor.

Glasgow Times: The fencing and containers that the owner blames for fall in takings
Glasgow Times: The fencing and containers that the owner blames for fall in takings

The fencing and containers that the owner blames for fall in takings (Image: Supplied)

“I feel I was cheated out of my livelihood. So many small businesses are struggling right now and I’ve heard from a lot of people who are in a similar position to me.

“This has impacted me financially and emotionally and I know that other restaurants in the street are suffering too.

“It’s hard enough running a business without barriers like this being put in place. Now I have to try to rebuild my life as best I can.”

Glasgow Times: The premises are now empty
Glasgow Times: The premises are now empty

The premises are now empty (Image: Supplied)

A spokesperson for Glasgow City Council told the Glasgow Times that the works in the area were unavoidable.

They added: “The work currently taking place on the Holland Street Avenue works will see major improvements being made to Holland Street and sections of West Regent Street and Pitt Street once the project is complete next summer.

“A number of methods were used to engage with local businesses and residents to advise them of the need to erect a site compound on Pitt Street for the delivery of the Holland Street Avenue works, including the site manager visiting each of the businesses around the site compound to provide information on the proposals.

“The decision to locate the compound in Pitt Street was made because of other ongoing development projects taking place nearby - at 225 Bath Street and the MODA development at the site of the former Police Scotland headquarters - making it difficult to place the compound, which is necessary for the people working on the project. Any city centre project such as this can cause a degree of disruption and inconvenience, and in recognition of this we worked with local businesses to create signage showing that all of them remained open.

“As always, we are available to discuss issues any local businesses may have, and we are aware that various economic factors at national and global levels mean this is a challenging time for businesses.”