QCCA Donor Takes a Trip Down Memory Lane
The man who puts delicious curries on our Lockdown Lunch menu worked in his uncle's Queen's Crescent shop as a boy.
Amrit Maan’s charity work during Covid has taken him back to his Queen’s Crescent roots.
As the owner of the Punjab - established in 1946 and one of England’s oldest Indian restaurants – he’s been delivering thousands of free meals to charities all over the capital.
But he had no idea that Queen’s Crescent Community Association (QCCA) was one of them until he found himself helping out with deliveries in Camden before Christmas.
‘When they told me we were delivering here, it felt bizarre because it’s my old stomping ground,’ he says, ‘but it also brought a smile to my face.’
As a boy, Amrit worked in the Maan Overseas Food Supplies grocery shop at 66 Queen’s Crescent every Saturday. Back then, it was one of only two shops selling West Indian and South Asian foods to the community.
‘I worked there between the ages of 11 and 18,’ he says, ‘doing the till, stacking shelves and loading and unloading vans. A lot of the community were very kind to me and I even remember getting tips.’
The shop was owned by his father Sital and his Uncle Jerry , who bought it in the mid 1970s. He thinks that a lot of people who lived around the Crescent in the 1980s and 1990s will remember his uncle who ran the business
‘Jerry was easy-going and positive, he’d always cheer you up,’ he says. ‘If some of the mums who came into the shop didn’t have enough money that week, he’d give them credit. And he’d go to the cash and carry and buy a couple of boxes of whisky each Christmas to offer drinks to everyone who came in the shop. We were a community centre before QCCA.’
Jerry sold the shop in 1994 and is now retired.
When he wasn’t helping his uncle, Amrit would hide in the library with his lunch and read. ‘My love of books is entirely due to Queen’s Crescent Library,’ he says. He has fond memories of the whole area. ‘Everyone said hello here and everyone knew each other’s business. It was a busy market back in its 1980s heyday and visiting was a big day out. I remember begging my dad to get me my first digital watch here.’
Now a solicitor as well as a restaurateur, Amrit has supplied QCCA members with hundreds of delicious meals during Covid. ‘I got so much out of Queen’s Crescent in my youth. It’s good that I’m giving back with this food,’ he says.
The Punjab pays for most of the food it donates but has a Gofundme page if you want to contribute towards their costs https://uk.gofundme.com/f/covid-relief-healthy-meals-for-londoners-in-need?qid=ca22f4fc2a4d5e41612a6766efff4aa7