This entrepreneur didn’t sit back when Covid lockdowns destroyed his travel agency business – he did something about it, writes Ismail Suder.
When the local Hajj and Umrah travel industry dried up due to several Covid lockdowns, tour operator and community leader, Nazir Malek turned to his other great passion – cooking .
Already known for his mass catering for all functions, Malek decided to expand. He took over the well-known Noori’s bakery in Brickfield Road and turned it into a fully-fledged deli where one can enjoy tasty home-styled traditional curries and an array of other foods under one roof.
Malek has spent his life in various community activity roles, including participating in various upliftment programmes. His other passion is the Urdu language and Urdu poetry, and as a former head of Buzme Adab (KZN) he was instrumental in bringing down well known overseas artists to our shores.
Then, Covid hit last year and everything turned upside down. His well established travel agency Malek Travel which primarily focused on Hajj an Umrah travels, including leisure travels, suffered because of the Covid travel restrictions imposed by almost all countries, including Saudi Arabia. Umrah bookings came to a standstill and Hajj travel was out of the question. The business had to be mothballed with no indication yet when full and safe travel will resume.
Many travel agencies that focused on Hajj and Umrah travel have also moved to alternative businesses to survive.
For Malek, waiting for life to normalise, was not an option.
When Nooris Bakery in Brickhill Road was up for sale, his passion for food kicked in, and he decided to take it over and expand his catering service. The difference this time is the public can now walk-in to his Deli/Restaurant and enjoy delicious piping-hot curries scooped up from a giant “Deg” pot that comes off open wood fires.
In an interview, he told Al Qalam: “I took over Nooris Bakery in February this year and I re-modelled the entire store. Apart from an in-house bakery which produces top quality cakes, naan and some signature foods, such as their special fresh-cream coconut cake, there is a fully-fledged butchery in store and a coffee shop.”
Perhaps, Malek’s big seller is their hot mutton bunnies that oozes with flavour.
“Alhamdulillah, we have always been involved in catering for big and small functions and that will continue as normal”, he said.
“We started Sunday buffet breakfasts (which go on till late) where we serve an array of foods at an affordable price, and the concept is catching on fast. We also introduced the Gatsby which is a naan filled with delicious chicken and steak that can be shared by about four people. It’s known more in Cape Town, but it is now available in Durban for the first time.
On weekends, you can expect to enjoy Friday dhall and rice, briyani, khalia and other delights.
During Ramadan, Nooris Bakery will be catering for Iftar meals, including Malek’s famous haleem along with savouries.
Malek said his kitchen will be busy preparing daily donor Iftar packs (including Haleem) for distribution in mosques at reasonable prices.
“It’s an exciting new journey, and those who know me, will know they can expect to get the best,” said Malek.
*Noori’s is at 139 Felix Dlamini Road (Brickfield Road). They can be contacted on 031-2076861