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By Charles Walmsley
Crew daters may need to find a new favourite venue after Jamals received a £200,000 make-over in September.
Although the closure only lasted 24 hours, reports of mice, unconnected sinks combined with low scores on review sites served to dissuade potential customers from visiting the eatery.
Following the inspection, Jamal’s Food Hygiene Rating was 0, meaning it was classed as needing “Urgent Improvemet”.
Now Muhammad Ali and Arzoo Miah have taken on the task of reinventing the restaurant, giving the menu a £10,000 revamp alongside the change of name. The partners have successfully run Indian culinary projects elsewhere – Mr. Ali owns Watlington’s Spice Guru and Mr Miah runs the Arzoo in Bicester.
Mr Miah will also be the head chef and has won a number of awards, including the inaugural UK Indian Chef Competition last year.
The pair have been planning a base in Jericho for a while, with Mr Ali saying: “It has always been our dream to open a restaurant in Jericho, but we could never find the right property.”
He went on to emphasise the importance of the local community and the 18 jobs the new project has created.
The new restaurant will also incorporate desserts designed by Mr Ali’s Indian cooking pupils at Oxford and Cherwell Valley College.
Jamals became legendary among Oxford students for drunken antics, with stories of raucous behavior at the venue a notorious part of college folklore. The new design indicates that future crew dates may be tamer affairs, with a greater emphasis on the quality of the food and location instead.
Student reaction has been largely favourable so far, with Hertford second year Richard Foord saying: “No-one went to Jamals for the food anyway. As long as the new owners still welcome large student parties I can’t see it making a difference.”
A third year mathematician was similarly positive in her outlook, pointing out “the sinks might be connected to the mains now I guess” in reference to the Oxford City Council health report.
Even fans of crew dates were philosophical about the new restaurant, with an E & M student at Worcester believing “it will be missed. Even people who were here ten years ago talk about Jamals with fondness”.
˜“This will be a great opportunity to try something new. Crew dates are bound to continue as drunken and crazy as before,” they added.
Mr Miah may be familiar to some students as former head chef at Bomay, another favourite student crew-dating venue in Jericho.