A POPULAR international grocery store in Carlisle aims to offer affordable food and goods that cater to all of the city's communities.

MK Spice on Brook Street is run by Bijoy Rodriguez, who took over the shop in 2020. 

Now the shop is a popular destination for locals seeking Asian and African spices, fresh fruit, vegetables, meat, and home-cooked Indian classics.

Bijoy explained how his father used to be a regular at the store before they took it over.

He said: "This shop which we are running belonged to a Pakistani businessman before who ran the shop for 22 years, but he soon wanted to retire and have his own life so he was looking for someone to buy it.

"In the meantime, my dad was a chef in Masala Bazaar, the top restaurant in Carlisle and he would always buy groceries from this shop. In August 2020 we took over the shop."

After taking over the shop Bijoy was keen to extend its range of goods so that it could cater to the varying Carlisle communities, with this involving the introduction of goods that cater to religious needs and cultural cravings.

He said: "When we took over the shop had a small section of spices and fresh vegetables, but when we took over we increased it to a wider range and we catered to the Indians, Pakistanis, Bangladeshis, Arabs, Africans, and Latin Americans.

"We cater to all communities, the Muslims eat Halal meat and the Africans like goat meat and they like yams, plantain, and saltfish so we have a little bit of everything for everyone."

Whilst prioritising the quality of their produce, MK Spice also takes steps to ensure that the food and goods it sells are affordable for all communities and in this vein they created their £5 'Biriyani Sundays' where locals can enjoy a South Asian classic at a low price.

Bijoy explained how he hoped that his shop could supply the community with their favourites without breaking the bank. 

He said: "Our main thing is that we keep quality produce and keep the prices very low, we are maybe one of the cheapest not only in Carlisle but maybe in the UK.

"We keep our prices low on purpose in these times of expensive and difficult living so that students, refugees, and everyone in the community can enjoy their favourites."