A sustained campaign of hate by racist thugs has led owners of a Cheltenham takeaway restaurant to consider quitting the business.
Sukh Randhawa, who owns Tennyson Food Plaza, in Tennyson Road, says she and her staff have been subjected to racist insults on a regular basis since they opened six months ago.
The mum-of-two, who is Punjabi by birth but has lived in the UK for 16 years, says she was spat at by one customer and called a “Paki” by another.
Male staff at the family business have also been taunted over their beards – an integral part of their faith as Sikhs.
Mrs Randhawa said: “Our staff have to put up with abuse every week.
“I have been spat at, called names and my car outside has been damaged. Customers have called me ‘Paki’ and told me to go back to my own country.
“My staff have been abused for having beards.
“We have also been threatened by customers who say they are going to ruin our business by posting lots of negative reviews online.
“Someone even ordered £40 of food to a false address.
“Most of our customers are very loyal and treat us with respect. But a small minority make life very difficult.
“They don’t know how hard we work to run the business. It gets depressing when this kind of thing happens. It has made me think about selling the business.”
Mrs Randhawa set up the pizza, burger and curry diner after studying for a degree in business at the University of Gloucestershire. Opening from 4pm until 11pm each day, she runs it together with her husband Hapinder and brother Lakhwinder.
She said she had not reported incidents to the police because she feared nothing could be done.
She added: “A customer told me to report it to police, but what can they do?
“We are a hard-working family, we work long hours, and I just want to be treated with respect.
“It would be a shame for the area if we closed but we are seriously considering it.”
Asian community leaders voiced disgust at the family’s treatment, and offered their support.
Siddique Jafforay, vice president of the Cheltenham Bangladeshi Association, said: “I’m very sorry to hear this has happened.
“We are a Bangladeshi association but we embrace a diversity of people, whether they are Sikhs, Muslims or from any other background.
“Thankfully it’s not something we see in Cheltenham very often. We are based in Fairview and it’s extremely rare you get that kind of behaviour.
“It might be worse in St Mark’s as it is on the edge of a slightly rougher area.
“But what people must do is report these incidents to the police, because that is the only way to show people it will not be tolerated.”
Rahul Sachdeva, manager of Pizza Go Go, in the lower High Street, said idiots who made racist insults were part of life for many late night takeaway staff.
“Late at night when people have had too much to drink, these things can happen – not just here but in any town in the UK,” he said.
“The best thing is to ignore these people, or tell them you won’t serve them. Then call the police if you have to but there is only so much they can do.”
Chris Jackson, a spokesman for Gloucestershire police, urged people to report racist abuse.
He said: “No one should have to endure abuse because of their race, religion or sexuality and we would urge anyone in these circumstances to call police.
“Gloucestershire has fantastically strong and diverse communities and behaviour like this is completely unacceptable. We'll do all we can to help victims and bring offenders to justice.”