How An Indian Sweeper Captured The Flavor Of Entire Britain

Kenya was suffering adverse conditions which forced an India-born man to leave it with a broken heart. He had just £5 in pocket, a life insurance policy, a wife and six children to take care of. He reached London, where he did not have any friend or relative.

The only job this Gujarati man could find was sweeping the streets on London and the money was barely enough to feed the family of eight. But while he dusted off the roads, he understood that he could sell Indian food on these streets and may be provide a better life to his family.

With the help of his wife Shanta Gaury, Laxmishanker Pathak started making sweets, samosas, pickles and chutneys.

They had so little money coming in that they couldn’t afford a delivery boy. Instead, their six-year-old son Kirit was made to deliver products from door to door. The little boy did not know English then and used to carry two paper pieces. One had his home address and the other had the delivery address.

Bus drivers and pedestrians helped little Kirit with addresses and his junior free bus pass saved Pathaks a lot of money. The kitchen for all these products was a small room where there was hardly any space to move around. Their efforts started bearing fruits and the business grew. The family began receiving orders for functions and Indian officials in London.

They needed a slightly bigger space now so they raised some money and got a shop on rent. This attracted many Indians and some curious Londoners. This success was the result of working 18 hours a day year after year.

The authenticity and quality of their products spread through word of mouth and almost every restaurant began using their pastes and pickles. To make it more of a British brand, the family dropped the ‘h’ from the brand and became popular as ‘Patak’s’.

Today, the company supplies sauces, mixed spices, and ready meals to all the major UK supermarkets and 75% of the British curry houses. Patak’s now employ more than 700 people worldwide and export their products in more than 40 countries.

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