Mumbai: Meherwan Kohinoor, the owner of Mumbai’s iconic Britannia restaurant, located at Ballard Estate, has died; he was 87. He was one of nine siblings born in Iran and came to India at the age of 21.
Meheraboon (Meherwan) Rashid Gourabian’s eatery is known for authentic Parsi cuisine — Berry Pulao, Dhansak being the signature dishes — and its seafood concoctions. Frequented by foodies, the eatery must have been an equally big draw when it first opened its doors to British Officers stationed in the Fort area. However, during the World War II years, it was reportedly taken over as an office by the British only to be returned to the proprietors at the end of the war.
Not much has changed since then, media reports claim, including the Bentwood furniture imported from Poland during the eatery’s early years. Over the years, the eatery stood its ground, even though the Irani café culture in the city is on the decline. Incidentally, the restaurant’s 99-year lease expires in 2023. More than, anything, Meherwan was known for his personal touch – he would make small talk with customers, recounting his days in Iran and even take some of the orders himself. He is survived by his wife, Pervin Irani (Tafti), son Kuresh, daughter Farzana and two grandsons.
The restaurant reeks of nostalgia with photos of international visitors and the British Royals adorning the walls. “Very sad news. We relished the food at Britannia so very much. I especially loved the sali boti. Uncle was a warm, always smiling and a gentle soul. He made every customer feel at home. We love you uncle and will miss you too.”
Ruumi Daruwalla, a member of the Parsi community, said, “I met him at Britannia a few weeks back and he looked healthy. May his soul rest in peace.” Farida Bharucha, another member, said, “Sad to hear this! Such a wonderful gentleman who would always greet all customers and go around all the tables. May his soul find the right place in heaven.” On behalf of the community, the Parsi Times has extended heartfelt condolences to the family. Neville Vapiwala said, “Uncle was a lovely man who made all his patrons feel very welcome. He especially enjoyed entertaining the western tourists and was a firm fan of the British Royal Family.”