The coronavirus pandemic has had a huge impact on local businesses, most of whom have had to close for months.

Retailers have been forced to completely shut their doors, with just deliveries possible, while restaurants, cafés and pubs have only been allowed to sell food and drink to take away.

Those shops which have been able to stay open, including food stores and pharmacies, have also had to adapt by putting in social-distancing measures and maintaining a high level of hygiene in their stores to keep people safe.

READ MORE: Berkshire's oldest fire station will close - here's why and when it will happen

Reading’s strong scene of independent companies has not only found ingenious ways to adapt to the situation, but also supported key workers in the town and even across the UK, helping the country to fight the virus.

The Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS) has previously reported on the struggles faced by a new bar and community space in east Reading, a local catering company donating 3,000+ coronavirus meals to key workers and several restaurants providing one hundred meals a day for vulnerable people in Whitley – to name just a few examples.

But we wanted to do even more to highlight the local efforts.

This is the second interview in a series speaking to local businesses to find out about their experience during the lockdown, what they’ve done to keep their business going, how they’ve played their part in helping the community and how they are now adapting their business to a changed world.

Last week, we interviewed Double-Barrelled Brewery.

This time around, we spoke to catering company Makan Malaysia.

‘It’s been quite a journey’

Sue and Kat are best friends and owners of Makan Malaysia.

Reading Chronicle: Reading Chronicle:

Makan means eat in Malay and the company set out to share all things Malaysian (history, art, culture) through food.

They usually do this though hosting supper clubs, trading at markets and festivals and providing catering at events.

The owners said since the lockdown started, everything had to change and it was “quite hard” to see their full summer of events “completely scrapped”.

They took a couple of weeks off to figure out how to adapt – “and have a mini freak out” – and have now started sending chilled Malaysian food parcels across the UK from a shared community kitchen in Reading.

READ MORE: Reading's most and least expensive streets

Sue and Kat said: “It’s been quite a journey and it keeps changing with every new development and with the ease of lockdown rules so we’re constantly trying to stay ahead of the game.

“Despite the challenges faced, we’ve found ourselves to be in a relatively fortunate situation, as we don’t have a restaurant premise or staff which meant rent hasn’t been an issue and we haven’t had to face the dilemma of furloughing people, unlike some of our other indie friends.”

Reading Chronicle: Reading Chronicle:

The duo also praised Reading’s independent food and drink scene, saying: “We know that Reading has a reputation of being ‘just a commuter town’ but there are actually so many exciting and different businesses operating – people just need to know where to look.

“And this has become apparent during lockdown when chatting with our neighbours and seeing people on Facebook who want to support local businesses but just don’t know how or where to look.”