A couple whose mobile catering business collapsed during the pandemic have opened a new Caversham restaurant in time for Reading Festival.

Flavour of Mauritius, which used to serve food at 40 festivals a year until Covid-19 struck, is looking to receive a much-needed boost from weekend campers.

Cancelled gigs left owners Hema and Mark Faulkner in debt last year, but Hema said they were determined to keep serving authentic Mauritian cuisine.

“We had to sell the vans, sell everything, so that we could be in control of our debts – it was very hard,” she said.

Reading Chronicle: Image Credit: Flavour of Mauritius Image Credit: Flavour of Mauritius

She explained her three vehicles were worth £47,000 but they only fetched £11,000 when sold.

“It was our dream to open a restaurant so we put that money into here, got some contributions from family and then we opened up,” said Hema, who learned to cook in her parents bar in Mauritius.

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Since launching on July 31, the restaurant on Caversham Road has been fully booked at weekends and Hema hopes the festival will bring in more customers.

“Now we have a restaurant on the main road I’m hoping we’ll do well and everybody is excited.

“People have travelled a long way to come here: Manchester, Birmingham, Wales, Exeter, Essex. Because it’s all authentic Mauritian food, no fusion at all.”

Hema has added some quick bites for festival-goers to the menu, including burgers, chips, samosas and pancakes.

On a normal day the restaurant serves up spicy chicken livers, dhal puri, octopus vindaye and more – and customers can sit in a straw beach hut to enjoy them.

Reading Chronicle: Image credit: Flavour of Mauritius Image credit: Flavour of Mauritius

After festivals were cancelled nationwide last year, Hema and Mark donated the food they had ordered to NHS, police, fire service and ambulance staff in Reading, as well as charities helping people in need.

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Flavour of Mauritius is not serving its normal menu until August 30 while they focus on running a stall outside the front door.