TabInterview: Ali Shah (AKA Mr. Patrick Pizza)

Alex Prescot grills fast food mogul and owner of Elvet Riverside based Paddy’s Pizza, Ali Shah. Turns out he’s not Irish, we were disappointed too.


As I stumble out of Klute, I have a difficult decision to make. I need food, fast. Subway is mediocre, North Road is too far…there’s only one option. Patrick’s Pizza.

Known as ‘Paddy’s’ to its regulars, this mecca of rapid consumerism is as much a part of a night out as poor heating is a part of Elvet Riverside. While enjoying my nuggets and chips, I managed to have a chat to the owner, Ali Shah. This entrepreneurial Leeds Uni graduate sheds light on the mystery that is Durham’s legendary cornershop.

A name steeped in history

Tab: First things first, if your name is Ali Shah, who is Patrick?!

Ali: Ah, I get asked this a lot. A guy called Mr. Patrick used to own this building, running it as a newsagents and a café in the 90s. When I took over the business in 2011, it was already a fast food place. I wanted to change the name, but it was already well known and popular with the students!

Tab: Yes it is, sir. Do you get on with the other fast food outlets or is there some competition?

Ali: At the moment we offer a completely different service as we don’t do delivery, whereas some other places rely on that, so we’re not in direct competition. Also, Paddy’s are known for being friendly and popular with the students, and I think I can say we’re doing pretty well!

The man knows his way to a student’s heart

Tab: As it sometimes gets even more sweaty than Klute in here, I’d have to agree. Have you ever had any strange late night requests for food?

Ali: Yeah we have. A year or so ago an International student came in very drunk asking for “Middle Eastern Sweet”, a dish which I still have never heard of. It would have been alright, except he came back every other week after that and asked for it every time.

Tab: Sounds horrendous and also casually racist. Is that the worst drunken moment you’ve had to deal with?

Ali: Oh no! A few years ago a Stockton student came in very drunk and was asking us to stay open until the first bus in the morning came. We had to ring the police to get him out but then, while we were cleaning up, he tied the door handles outside together with string, so we had to ring the police again to let us out!

Ali Shah’s international empire

Tab: Do you have any plans to expand in Durham?

Ali:  Actually, we are hoping to buy a fleet of 4 minivans and start up delivery service in the near future. Look out for the Paddy’s logo around Durham soon.

Tab: I’ll watch this space then! And anything beyond Durham?

Ali: Yeah, I run another branch of Paddy’s called ‘Supercrust’ in Pakistan. We have just opened our first store and it’s doing very well. I’m hoping that by 2023 we should own 20% of fast food market out there!

Tab: If I’m ever in Pakistan, I’ll pop round. But back in the bubble, do you miss the students out of term time?

Ali: Of course! The students are the main economic factor here, all businesses in Durham rely on them. It’s like a ghost town without them!

An artist’s impression of Durham during the holidays.

Tab: Glad I’m not here to see it. Finally, anything you’d like to say to the Tab readers?

Ali: I would like to say that Patrick’s is run for you. We will pay attention to what you want, find out how you want it and give it to you just that way. We will endeavour to earn your trust and your enthusiastic endorsement and we hope that we will never disappoint you or your friends. On the rare occasion that we do get it wrong, we will do whatever it takes to put it right. In all, I would say to all Durham students that Ali and Ali’s team is always out there for you.