A BRAND-NEW restaurant in Oldham has hosted an exclusive free dinner for NHS workers ahead of its official opening.

Cafe East, on Yorkshire Street, opened its doors to 80 NHS staff on Monday night to thank them for their hard work over the Covid-19 pandemic.

The event was ran in partnership with the NorthCare Charity, the NHS charity that supports The Royal Oldham Hospital, which held a raffle that gave NHS workers the chance to win a set meal at the restaurant which combines a family-friendly environment with luxury and fine dining.

The winners enjoyed a menu that included Punjabi style chicken tikka masala, lamb bhuna and a vegetarian option, as well as naan bread, onion bhajis, samosas and pilau rice. Dessert was gulab jamun served with ice cream.

The restaurant, which serves authentic Punjabi cuisine along with continental steaks and burgers, is opening to the public this Saturday with all profits made on the opening night going to the Dr Kershaw’s Hospice in Royton.

The restaurant’s founder Kamran Ghafoor, whose mother’s and grandparent’s cooking played a central role in his life growing up in Oldham, is determined to replicate the homemade meals of his childhood at Cafe East.

Commenting on the evening, Shelley Owen, a fundraising officer at NorthCare Charity, said: “We are very grateful to Kamran and the team at Café East for providing this special evening for our NHS staff and raising funds for NorthCare Charity. Support from our local community and businesses is greatly appreciated and makes a real difference.”

Discussing the restaurant’s opening this weekend, Kamran said: “I am proud that I have been able to open the first Punjabi restaurant in the heart of Oldham town centre.

“I believe in the people of Oldham and believe that Oldham can be the next ‘go to’ place for a wide variety of food which will help the economy and get the young people into good, long-term work.

“We are open for breakfast, lunch and dinner and want to bring people back into the town centre to give them a dining experience parallel or even better to what they would expect from a restaurant in the centre of Manchester.”

The restaurant has already hired 40 young people from the borough.

To book a table customers can visit the Café East website.