Here's a statistic to gladden the hearts of those who feel that chains are taking over the world and that there's no place for little guys. The UK has more than 12,000 curry houses - as opposed to a mere 1,250 Golden Arches; no wonder that chicken tikka masala is cited as the nation's favourite dish. Estimates of the number of workers in this £3.5bn industry range from 50,000 to 100,000. But these sunny figures conceal a sector facing difficulties. Recent restrictions on short-term visas have made it harder to recruit staff from Bangladesh (most UK 'Indians' are Bangladeshi-owned). And, say restaurateurs, although eastern Europeans are fine for front-of-house, they require too much training to be curry chefs. But there are plans to open up a £20m Balti academy in Birmingham. And devotees of exotic food will be pleased to know that the number of curry houses is matched, if not exceeded, by the number of Chinese establishments. It's reckoned that there are about 12,000 Chinese restaurants and 3,000 takeaways in the UK. Even in the US, the spiritual home of food-to-go, the 52,000 Chinese restaurants across the country outnumber all the fast-food chains put together.
Source: Bangladesh Caterers Association UK