Any student studying at Southampton will inherently know about Manzil’s, it’s history and the synonymous popularity that goes with it, echoed through word of mouth from student to student. It has become a pilgrimage undertaken after a long night of partying at local haunts such as ‘Sobar’ and ‘Jesters’. The warm-hearted feelings many hold towards Tariq and his establishment is not a new concept; on the contrary, it’s something that not only Tariq, but his whole family have committed themselves to improving and constantly striving to provide their customers with great service and the best possible prices.
After establishing his business nearly 17 years ago, Tariq’s first night was a dismal display compared to the flock of loyal customers he is used to seeing today, where he only sold one onion bhaji all night. So where did the initiative come from to start introducing the student deal (£6.95) and to stay open later?
“Just before 2000 we introduced the special student deal because at that time we could start to see the true effects of money constraints students were having, as students wanted to dine here, but simply couldn’t afford it. So we decided to fix that!”
During the early 2000’s, the European Union were feeling the impact of decline within economic activity. Although the outcome wasn’t as bad as previously predicted, it still took a bold move from Tariq to introduce lower prices, which could have seen his business sink. However the business gained momentum and was driven forward by Tariq’s altruistic influence towards his customers. But at the end of the day, there is a business to be run; has the change in price altered any other part of Tariq’s business plan?
“Of course we are a business and it is always nice to make a profit but what I want to do now more than anything else is look after my family and my customers- which is now one in the same. I have students bringing their families to my restaurant to meet me which is something I hold very close to my heart.”
Students appear to love Tariq’s restaurant and are extremely loyal. In the past, when bogged down in a busy work flow, students have volunteered to help get food out on time. With this stable business cemented in Portswood and a strong customer base, Tariq is looking to expand and open another restaurant, but where? Bedford Place seems to be Tariq’s ideal location- close to Southampton’s students favourite place to go on a night out. These plans for expansion would give Tariq a new challenge- providing the same great atmosphere and service at a different location.
“Family is a massive part in what I do and I feel the students are a part of my family. A lot of students don’t know where I am and end up going to the wrong place and often get taken advantage of when they are drunk by getting charged too much. I try to look after students as best I can as I really care about my customers. Tariq Manzils is the real Manzils.”
Tariq’s efforts were recognised in 2007 and his restaurant was named one of the top 10 curry houses in the UK by the Guardian. Although he has seen great success with his business, his kind-hearted nature has also been taken advantage of, leading to losing money and even connections. It is evident that both he and his family work hard to provide not only a service but also a second home for students. So after your next night out in Portswood, fill your stomach, your head and your heart with no only curry, but an atmosphere that will make you feel like you’re Tariq’s favourite customer. And to be honest, you probably are.