Prithiraj Sheffield: Inside the Yorkshire restaurant loved by Strictly Come Dancing star Dan Walker
Mr Walker, who lives in the city and is currently starring in this year’s series of Strictly Come Dancing, has long been a fan of Prithiraj restaurant on Ecclesall Road, visiting frequently and often ordering takeaways to his home.
But last Tuesday evening he indulged in a special visit, taking his Strictly dance partner Nadiya Bychkova to enjoy a meal with his family while on a tour of his home city.
Whilst there, the duo were presented with a ‘good luck’ cake, which Mr Walker then tweeted about – and staff at the restaurant say they have seen inundated with bookings ever since.
Waiter Mohammed Arafat told The Star: “We are always so busy, especially over the weekend, and we have lots of loyal customers so we are always very full.
“But since the visit last week the phone has been ringing non-stop and we have had so many bookings.”
Mr Arafat says Mr Walker has been visiting the restaurant for many years and has been very involved with the charity events run by chef Mohammed Sobuj Miah.
He is not the only local celebrity to frequently visit the restaurant either, as it is also popular with Mark Labbett from The Chase and a number of Sheffield United stars.
Mr Arafat said: “I have been working here for six years and the chef has know Dan Walker for much longer than that, so since I’ve come here I’ve seen him a lot of times.
“He is a really nice guy and very friendly, very humble. He comes in for a takeaway most weekends when he is in Sheffield and dines in occasionally too.
“Dan has a very good relationship with the chef and we do charity events almost every year, for the Children’s Hospital and to help the local community. He has always been so helpful with things like that and gives up his time with no problems. We are very grateful and it is great to see a famous person who is so nice.”
In 2019, the staff at Prithiraj – alongside Mr Walker – raised more than £114,000 for charity.
He has also given the restaurant a shout-out on BBC Breakfast before, thanking the team for all their hard work during the Covid-19 pandemic and praising them for their continued commitment to local charity work.
So when Mr Walker called the chef last week and said he wanted to bring Ms Bychkova for a meal, it is no surprise that the staff decided to do something special to welcome her to Sheffield and thank Mr Walker for his custom.
Mr Arafat was instructed to order a cake from Cake Box in Darnall, decorated with the words “Dan Walker, Good luck on SCD, From Prithiraj”, which was presented to the table during the meal.
“Everyone wanted to make sure they were working that night as it was so special – some people even swapped their day off because they wanted to be involved,” he said. “For us it is just so exciting to know that Dan loves what we do here because we care about it so much.
"We are really proud of the food and what Prithiraj represents, so it was an honour to be able to give them a gift and welcome Nadiya to the restaurant.”
And according to Mr Arafat, Prithiraj didn’t disappoint, as he says Ms Bychkova said it was the “best Indian food” she had “ever tasted”.
The staff at Prithiraj have have been watching Strictly Come Dancing every week since it began last month.
They say they have all got their fingers crossed that Mr Walker and Ms Bychkova – who have affectionately named themselves Team Walkova – will be crowned the winners of this year’s series.
Mr Arafat added: “We just want to say good luck and we hope they win! We have been keeping up with everything they have been doing and we are really excited for them.”
During the Strictly live shows last weekend, Ms Bychkova revealed that she has recently moved to Sheffield to be closer to Mr Walker during rehearsals and said she “absolutely loves” the city.
Mr Walker added: “The good people of Sheffield have fallen in love with Nadiya as well.”
The pair have been spotted at a number of locations across the city, and have been seen training at City Limits dance studio on Penistone Road in Hillsborough.
And like Prithiraj, a business across the road from the dance studio has been keen to show its support for Team Walkova during their Strictly journey.
The Robins & Day Peugeot garage on Penistone Road has displayed signs in its window wishing them good luck.
Mr Walker thanked the team for its kind words, tweeting: “Thank you to the lovely humans at the @Peugeot garage in Sheffield. We enjoy waving at you each day.”
Luckily the pair survived Strictly Come Dancing’s first elimination at the weekend, after performing a powerful Paso Doble on Saturday night.
They were dressed as gladiators during the performance and gained 26 points from the judges.
Dan and Nadiya were the penultimate couple to be told they were through to movie week on yesterday’s results show.
Strictly Come Dancing will return on Saturday, October 7, at 6.45pm on BBC One for movie week.