Whether you are a new student with a penchant for cooking, or an old face from around the block, you will have at some point set foot in the culinary Aladdin’s Cave which is Akram’s. I hold fond memories of being a nipper and ducking out of my gran’s on Villiers Road, in order to buy myself a sly samosa that they used to display on the counter. Whilst Portsmouth has been evolving and modernising, Akram’s has always been a constant, a place you could rely on. The smell of the spices that greets you as you walk in has become a byword for comfort within our family. So you can imagine the concern when signs stating that the business is struggling started to appear in the shop windows, not to mention a short piece appearing on South Today and The News highlighting the store’s current plight. So how can this be?
It is no secret that the traders along the pedestrianised area of Palmerston Road have been struggling, and the questions surrounding this issue have been thoroughly discussed on Strong Island, but can this 50 year old Southsea institution really be on the verge of going under? Surely their customer base span the generations, ensuring their survival no matter what happens to the road? If the effects of the pedestrianisation threatens a shop of this stature, then what would become of all the other independent traders? Sainsbury’s moved in a couple of doors down last summer, and no doubt we should expect more identikit convenience stores on their way. Southsea is being flooded with “local / express” versions of big name chains; places to buy crisps and magasines but not much else. Why do we need a Tesco’s opposite a Sainsbury’s on Albert road, or a Morrison’s next to a Coop on Elm Grove? Not only a waste of well located buildings, but also a loss of any sort of identity to the area. The thorny issue of Palmerston Road has clearly divided people and I find my views on it at odds with each other. I enjoy the café culture that can sometimes be felt down the road during the summer, and as a cyclist rather than a driver, the way the road has evolved suit my personal needs just fine. However I also believe that our independent businesses need to take a precedence and be preserved. Now more so than ever.
So no matter what side of the fence you find yourself on, Akram’s must remain a fixture on the Southsea food scene. This landmark has guided myself and many others through our attempts at Indian, Thai, Chinese and Caribbean cuisine. It’s loss would be tremendous. So next time you find yourself in the area, make sure to call on them and show your support.
Well said Charlie – I don’t think it’s just the pedestrianisation either, the new Sainsburys can’t have helped with people buying all the usual convenience stuff Akrams have (ciggies, soft drinks etc) from there instead. Stop the march of the generic convenience store!!!
It can’t close! Where will we all get our proper spices from… This can not happen!
I have been a customer of Adrams spice emporium in Palmerston road for decades and was often able to conveniently park outside the shop – along with many other customers of this and other businesses in the road – until someone in their ivory tower decided to pedestrianise the road and do away with the Taxi rank and roadside parking without thinking through the disasterous consequences this would have on the loss of trade and livelihood of local traders. The result has been to make it difficult for any ‘passing trade’ to stop and ‘nip in’ for some essential or other. The loss of this quite unique shop will be extremely inconvenient to people who live in the vicinity. Surely it isn’t beyond the wisdom, or wit, of the City Council to see this and to at least allow vehicles to park, load and unload, albeit for short periods. It would help what was a thriving business to survive and so continue providing the community with a valuable service. Sorry if I’ve been a bit long winded!!
I know dozens of people, many of them good friends who, like me, believe this to be the best thing to have happened to palmerston road. Well done Portsmouth City Council. You have made this a user friendly cafe culture centre. Hopefully, when Akrams go, a really good cafe will join the road. A victory for European culture. But hey, if anyone still craves inhumanely slaughtered meat, most supermarkets sell Halal anyway…they just don’t tell you its slowly and painfully bled to death : -)
I agree with John D. I used to live in Jordan and have seen sheep dragged from vans before having their throats cut, the street swimming with blood while the animals writhe in pain for thirty minutes in the pains of death. Halal slaughter is not pretty. Its not something we want to hear is it? How awful to speak of it…this isn’t Jordan…no, its not!!! Stop buying Halal and saying how nice it all is
I did chat with one of the staff at Akrams a while ago and asked if it would be feasible for them to move to Fratton Rd, when the former Cut Price shop was lying empty. But Fratton Rd now has 4 similar shops, Rabia, Dylan, Portsmouth Food Centre, Fratton International Food Shop, with others along Fawcett Rd, Elm Grove, and Kingston Road. So it could be competition from other similar shops in the city. I’m sure Akrams could move to somewhere nearby, there are a lot of empty units.
It’s a pity that idiots like John D and Abdul H have bring stupid facts into a perfectly decent conversation. This is about what is happening in Palmsterston Road, PCC will use it as an excuse for housing! Halal meat for your information was not slaughtered in their back yard but in an abattoir as all meat in England is!
It is a shame about Akram stores i used to go there a lot back in 70s and 80s but then i discovered The Eastern Stores where i could get all the spices i needed