Mumbai: The iconic Mani's lunch home near Ruia College, Matunga, which was established in 1937, is under threat. The landlords of Mhaskar building, where the restaurant is situated, NN Anand and Lalita Gupte have vide a letter dated December 29, 2022 have asked owner Subramani Narayanswamy to vacate the premises by January 31, 2023. The Free Press Journal has a copy of the letter.
Talking to this newspaper, KVS Rajamani, who manages the restaurant and is the uncle of Subramani Narayanswamy, said, “We were shocked when we received this letter. My grandfather started this restaurant in the pre-independence period. In the past several decades, we have built up a huge reputation by serving quality south Indian snacks and filter coffee at reasonable rates. We have been paying rent regularly and my late brother Narayanswamy had an excellent personal equation with the landlords. I hope that wiser counsel will prevail. If that does not happen then we will have to explore legal options.”
The restaurant is the favourite haunt of not only students of nearby Ruia and Podar colleges, but also with cricketers practising at the nets near Matunga gymkhana maidan. “The who's who of Mumbai cricket used to make a beeline to Mani's after net practice and chomp on the excellent idlis, medu wadas, dosas etc,” K Sheshadri, a regular patron, observed.
During the struggle for independence, several freedom fighters used to flock to this small restaurant on their way back from protest rallies. Earlier, the landlords had objected to snacks and coffee being served in cars parked in front of their building. The restaurant management stopped the practice long back. Sources said the building, which is at a prime location, may go in for redevelopment like several old buildings in the neighbourhood.
The management started a meals hotel a few years ago in a building near Matunga post office. However, that establishment was shifted to Chembur since that building, too, was taken up for redevelopment. The hotel owner was a sub-tenant and hence not entitled to alternate accommodation.
Subhash Ghatge, advocate for the hotel management, said he will suitably reply to the landlords' letter on behalf of the restaurant management.
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