Till a few days ago, his cell phone kept on ringing with inquiries from across the state. But the turn of events after the ‘shawarma incident’ has made it almost silent for the last four days. Nawas, who has been into the business of ‘shawarma’ machines for the past 16 years, says he has not received a single call regarding the business after the tragic episode.
According to him, during the last five years, the business of Arabian food-making machines, especially ‘shawarma’ had increased manifold. “When we started, we used to get one order a year. But during the last five years it had grown up to 25 to 30 units per month,” said Nawas, one of the few distributors of the machine in the state. He started the business in 1996 as an addition to his hotel at his hometown Kondotty in Malappuram district. “When I tried to sell my ‘shawarma’ machine for lack of business, a lot of inquiries followed. Hence I switched to the business of machines instead of selling ‘shawarma’,” said Nawas who owns three assembling units of Arabian food-making machines like broast and shawai chicken, in three states. In addition to the unit at Kondotty, he has one at Bangalore and a small unit at Coimbatore and employs more than 50 persons.
A machine made of stainless steel with a single burner imported from France would cost Rs 26,000 and the price would go up to Rs 30,000 if it is having two burners. A unit would consist of a machine, a knife, a whetstone and plates. His company - Al-Mascan Trading Establishment - was the sole one engaged in selling the Arabian food-making machines in the state till 2003 and has sold more than 1,500 units in the state. Another company formed in 2003 is also doing brisk business.
Ernakulam, the district, which witnessed a sudden growth of units tops the list with maximum numbers. The shop owners see it as a result of growing number of young population in the city, especially those staying in the flats. “They can have a quick sumptuous munch within the rate of Rs 70 if they go for a ‘shawarama’ and a juice in place of a hotel food item which would force them to pay at least Rs 100 more. This made it popular within no time,” said Binod, a shop owner.
According to Nawas, the capital district would be the second in the number of ‘shawarma’ stalls and Kannur would come next followed by Kasargod, Kozhikode and Malappuram.
But the news of food poison has spelt doom for his thriving business at least in the state for the time being. “At least dozen major cities in the country have a presence of ‘shawarma’ machines with Chennai topping the list and Mumbai, Banglore, Pune and New Delhi following in that order. I would be travelling these days in search of possible customers,” said an optimistic Nawas.