Another Mumbai memory to shut shop soon

Mumbai: After Samovar Cafe at the Jehangir Art Gallery in Kala Ghoda was closed after a court order, Cafe Mondegar, another iconic watering hole, now faces closure.

The restaurant and pub is among the 23 tenants of the Metro House in Colaba which was issued a lease termination letter by Mumbai Port Trust (MbPT) in November last year for violation of lease norms.

The occupants of the building, including Cafe Mondegar, were given time to vacate the property, and the deadline ends on Sunday, April 19.

The eviction notice, served on November 19, 2014, says that the lessee of the building, Metro House PvtLtd, has broken every possible term of the lease, including multiple instances of illegal subletting and alterations, unauthorised constructions of mezzanine floors, lofts, and installation of mobile towers, besides unpaid rent, service tax and interest.

The MbPT has also slapped a compensation demand of Rs 76,16,537 (including interest, service tax) which was supposed to be paid by the tenants within one month after they received the notice.
Cafe Mondegar, or Mondy’s, as fondly termed by most Mumbaikars, is located at the tip of the famous Colaba Causeway, known today as Shaheed Bhagat Singh Road.

Metro House, the building that houses Cafe Mondegar and 22 other tenants, dates backto 1870 and is located on a plot of around 1,457 sq. m owned by the MbPT.

Cafe Mondegar, a landmark in South Mumbai, was established by Iranians in 1871 and is run by Hoshang Yazdegardi, son of owner Rusi Yazdegardi.

It is best remembered for the painted murals on each of its walls, and for being the first restaurant to introduce draught beer. The paintings are by late veteran cartoonist Mario Miranda, depicting life in Mumbai city.

Apart from Cafe Mondegar, the other 22 occupants of the building include Hardcastle Restaurants (which operates a McDonald’s outlet on the premises), Hotel Regal Plaza and Metro Shoes, all of whom have been served eviction notices.

Mumbai Port Trust chairman Ravi Parmar said, “We have served a notice terminating the lease of Metro House. After the notice period expires on April 19, we will start eviction procedure.”

“These are common procedures where we serve notices to tenants for violating the lease agreement. It’s not about iconic places; it is about violating norms. MbPT had once even issued an eviction notice to the Taj Mahal Hotel in 2012 after its 99-year lease expired in 2001-02. Notice is the first step; the case later goes to the court of assets officer and for a final order. We give enough time to the tenants to move court and get stay to the eviction notice.”

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