Family pays tribute to well-known Lancaster businessman and take-away owner who 'lived life in the fast lane'

Tributes have been paid to Mohsen Khazeni-Rad - credited with opening the city's first modern take-away - who has died following a brain haemorrhage, aged 66.

By Nick Lakin
Tuesday, 9th June 2020, 5:09 pm
Updated Tuesday, 9th June 2020, 5:10 pm
Mohsen with two of his grandchildren - Elsa and Alma - at Ali Baba's in Lancaster.
Mohsen with two of his grandchildren - Elsa and Alma - at Ali Baba's in Lancaster.

The father-of-five, who ran Ali Baba's in North Road for 35 years, went on to open businesses in Morecambe, Halton, Garstang and Kendal, employing hundreds of people over three decades.

His son Daniel said he "lived life in the fast lane", with a love of "flash cars", and that he had received hundreds of message of condolences since his father's death last week.

Mohsen was born in Tehran, Iran, on June 13, 1953.

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Mohsen, left, at Ali Baba's in the early 1980s.

He had two sisters, Pouran and Pariwash and a brother, Mojtaba.

He was brought up in Tehran prior to the Iranian revolution where he served time as a conscript in the Iranian national army.

At the age of 25 he took over his father's import/export business in Tehran called the Cheltenham Company.

He did this following the death of his father from cancer at the age of 54, after flying him back from Houston, Texas, USA, where he was receiving treatment.

Mohsen with Diane, Louise, Daniel and Matthew.

He took over the company to support his siblings, mother, and grandmother amid the tumultuous times in that country following the 1979 revolution, running the firm for five years.

He initially came to the UK to study in 1976, first at Cambridge, and then Liverpool where he studied materials as part of a textiles degree.

He met his first wife Diane while she was studying for her degree at Liverpool College, and the couple married at Liverpool West Derby Registry Office in 1978.

When settling in Lancaster in 1983, he looked for work but found there wasn't anything substantial.

Mohsen and Diane.

So he decided to open the city's first modern takeaway (as we know now) in 1985 - Ali Baba's at 31 North Road, with his initial business partner Shahriar Abdollahian, after trying a doner kebab at a restaurant a few weeks earlier.

Mohsen and Diane initially lived in Ashton Drive, Lancaster, and then moved to Halton in 1986, where Diane was originally from.

Daniel said: "They were so impressed with a kebab takeaway idea that they opened with great fanfare employing hundreds of people from Lancaster and the surrounding areas.

"He opened several other takeaways in the 1980's and 1990's and spurred several others across the area.

Mohsen "lived life in the fast lane".

"His second takeaway in Kendal was called Sizzle In and then two in Morecambe - one across from the Eric Morecambe statue called Ali Baba 2, and another in the West End called Pizza Paradise.

"He also opened a pizza takeaway in Garstang called Ali Cats, and also two takeaways in Halton, initially a pizza shop called Danny's Pizza and finally the Halton Fish and Chip Shop.

"In the early 2000's, he created the fish and chip shop on Bare Crescent with a partner which remained operational for several years."

Outside of takeaways he invested in and built up Halton Village Store which remains operational today but under new ownership as of 2019.

During his ownership of the village stores he sponsored Halton Football Club.

Outside of work he was interested in "flash cars" including the Lotus Carlton, BMW M5, Ford Sierra Xr4 4x4, and lastly his beloved white Range Rover Sport.

His son Daniel said he "lived life in the fast lane, always having fun."

He took holidays in Iran yearly to visit his mother and siblings, but following the revolution, he decided it was better to stay and live in England.

His later business partner Asaf Oktem remains active in Ali Baba's, continuing to serve the local community.

He leaves behind five children - Matthew, Louise, Daniel, Callum and Arian, and seven grandchildren.

His children are now spread across the world with grandchildren in the UAE and Australia as well as in the UK.

Mohsen's funeral is due to take place this week, and he will be buried at Scotforth Cemetery.