The restaurant, Tommy’s Banglacafe, opened its doors to much fanfare at a launch event in South Charlotte Street in July.
Unite the union has taken up their cause while some staff are also understood to be independently pursuing the restaurant through the tribunal courts and reporting bosses for breaking the minimum wage law.
Tommy Miah’s Facebook page includes photos of him enjoying the opening night of Tommy’s Banglacafe with guests in July. He has been busy promoting the venture with posts on his site in the months since then.
But when the Evening News contacted the restaurant last night in an attempt to speak to Mr Miah, a member of staff who would only identify himself as “Ali” said Mr Miah was merely a “consultant” of the restaurant and denied he owned it or is directly involved. The Evening News understands BD 1971 Ltd – registered to an address in East London and founded in February – owns the restaurant.
Records lodged at Companies House list Rajoo Miah, believed to be Tommy Miah’s son, as the firm’s sole director, .
The Evening News reported last year how Mr Miah senior, one of the best known chefs in the city, was barred from being a company director for seven years after running up a tax debt of £229,000.
Along with his wife Anwara, the 59-year-old failed to keep accounts for the company behind award-winning eatery The Raj in Blackhall.
Ali, who said he helps out at Tommy’s Banglacafe, said: “The business that was projected was nowhere near. HR companies are involved and everything.
“A meeting was held a week before the wage payments to say ‘look guys we have to lay off a lot of staff. Business is not there’ – it’s not like the business is doing huge takings and you’re not getting paid.
“We told them in advance, not on the day. If you go and make noises business will get into trouble and nobody will get paid anything.”
A spokesman for the Unite union said: “Our members at Tommy’s Banglacafe met to discuss the next steps in their campaign to recoup the £25k they are owed in unpaid wages, holidays and tips.
“Despite still trading on South Charlotte Street, its owners have said they can only afford to pay their staff five per cent of wages owed per week. As of yesterday, they still haven’t even been paid this.”
In 1991, he founded the International Indian Chef of the Year Competition, to promote innovation and quality in Indian cooking.
Other accolades include delivering a curry lunch-box to 10 Downing Street for the then Prime Minister John Major’s 50th birthday and cooking the world’s largest curry.
He also raised funds for the Sreepur Village Orphanage in his native Bangladesh and Cancer Research UK.