End of an era as legendary Sheffield takeaway prepares to close its doors for good
When Mehran Behizad first came to Sheffield in 1973, he never imagined he would make the Steel City his home and help set up one of the city's most legendary takeaways.
Iranian by birth, Mehran came to the city to study industrial design at the polytechnic, but met his Sheffield-born wife there and decided to stay in England to raise a family.
After the Iranian revolution in 1979 ruled out any possibility of returning to the land of his birth, Mehran set up Chubbys in 1980 with a few business partners but eventually became the sole owner.
All that will come to an end this month however when the Cambridge Street institution closes its doors for the last time at 4am on Bank Holiday Monday, August 31.
The building has been subject to a compulsory purchase by Sheffield Council to make way for the ambitious Heart of the City II project - and the now 70-year-old Mehran is using the opportunity of the enforced closure to hang up his apron for good.
When he first set Chubbys up four decades ago, he said there was only one other late-night takeaway in the city centre, and many of their customers weren’t even aware what kebabs were.
He said: “When we were students we used to have to go to London to get a kebab so we thought why don’t we open a place in Sheffield.
“Customers used to come from Josephine’s nightclub and a few others. There was also a Turkish owned place on Norfolk Row but that didn’t last long.
“We’ve always just done kebabs, burger and chips - that is what people want when they come out of a nightclub.”
In the 40 years he has owned Chubbys, Mehran admits he has seen ‘all sorts’ and says that he ‘could write a book’, but he insists that most of his customers are well-behaved.
“Usually we are able to throw them out ourselves but there are some people even the police can’t handle - especially some of the women,” he said.
“But it is part of the business you have to put up with. The customer is the king.”
Over the years, Chubbys has become something of a right of passage to generations of Sheffielders, with mums and dads passing on its location to their children and those who come to the city from outside being taken by those in the know.
“There are people who met their wives here and still come back,” said Mehran.
"People from that generation have remained very loyal and have kept coming back.
“And I have always had very good relationships with my staff. They always said they had the best times of their lives working here.”
Mehran picked out three staff members he had worked with for particular praise, all of whom have since sadly died.
He said chefs Peter Marples and Muhammad Hussain, who were both at Chubbys in the 80s and 90s, had a ‘great rapport’ with customers and that late 90s and 2000s manager Mahmoud Tehrani was a ‘big-hearted personality’ who created a ‘warm, fun atmosphere’ for customers.
Despite the business’ impending closure, there is still a possibility that the Chubbys name might live on with the current managers hoping to set up elsewhere when the current coronavirus crisis subsides.
He said: “They say they want to open somewhere else but when we don’t know. To be honest it is not worth opening up at the moment.
“How long it will take for things to get back to normal we don’t know but they are young and they can do it.”
When it comes to the name, Mehran claims not to be able to remember where Chubbys came from, although it is safe to assume it was not because of the reputation of kebabs, burgers and chips with cheese as health foods.
Nevertheless, the takeaway has earned a deserved reputation among generations of revellers as a Sheffield institution, just as its founder has earned a long and happy retirement.