A determined businessman has shared his experience of opening a £2million soft play centre in Glasgow just weeks before the covid 19 pandemic took hold.

Husband-and-wife team Dr Usman and Shaefea Qureshi, owners of Fun Street at Silverburn shopping centre, have since spent the last two years learning to navigate tough restrictions to ensure the survival of their venture.

Glasgow Times: Pictured: Dr Usman Qureshi and Shafea Qureshi, co-owners of Fun Street Photo: Kirsty Anderson)Pictured: Dr Usman Qureshi and Shafea Qureshi, co-owners of Fun Street Photo: Kirsty Anderson)

Usman said: “It all started because of an idea my wife’s had.

"She wanted to bring something totally different to Glasgow.

“We have children ourselves and had been to a couple of places in America, Dubai or Europe and began to realise how different they were to in the UK.

“Over here you’ll usually find a soft play centre in an industrial unit with poor lighting and not much air conditioning or a clear theme.

“We wanted to try to create something that felt almost like going to Disney Land or a theme park.

“We were looking into it for around three years before the opportunity arose and we decided to go for it.”

The couple could never have predicted that a dream years in the making could have come so close to being shattered in the space of a few short weeks.

Fun Street was due to open in March 2020, just before the country was forced into a series of lockdowns that would become a true test for the new business owners.

Usman said: “It felt like the news was changing every two days.

“There was so much uncertainty at that time. Would we go into lockdown? When would we be allowed to reopen? What rules would we have to work with?

“It caused such big problems for us in terms of scheduling and cash flow.

“We had started hiring staff back in January who were really excited to be a part of the project, so we were really keen to keep a hold of them.

“A lot of them stayed with us throughout the whole pandemic."

While times were undeniably tough across every industry, the unique challenges of safely operating a soft play centre meant that Usman and Shaefa often felt pushed to their limits.

Usman said: “We opened in October 2020 but were very limited in what we could offer.

“The restrictions were quite unfair.

“There was funding from the government, but it was in no way comparable to what we needed to survive.

“Some businesses operating in a similar sector, such as trampoline parks, had an unfair advantage, soft play was slaughtered.

 “We survived because things (the worst of the pandemic) ended in time. Had it gone on any longer, I don’t know what might have happened.

"We were very fortunate to have the support of the Silverburn Centre."

Now, with hopes that the height of the pandemic has passed, the Fun Street team are close to being able to share their original vision for a one of a kind entertainment venue.

Visitors can look forward to an ‘interactive zone’ with augmented reality games, playhouses and even a restaurant offering everything from American style pancakes to Steak ciabattas with melted blue cheese.

Glasgow Times: Pictured: Dr Usman Qureshi and Shafea Qureshi, co-owners of Fun Street Photo: Kirsty AndersonPictured: Dr Usman Qureshi and Shafea Qureshi, co-owners of Fun Street Photo: Kirsty Anderson

Looking back over the last two years Usman said: “The pandemic has taught us that we need to be even more adaptable, constantly adapting to what customers want.

“It’s really encouraging to see people liking our offering and I’m confident now about the future.

“We’re getting close to what we originally anticipated.

“There are still restrictions, and the pandemic isn’t really over, but we are feeling encouraged and optimistic.

“Things are looking good at the moment, let's hope it continues that way.”

For more information on Fun Street click here.