A Berry Happy Birthday to Britannia!

“In the good old days, there used to be 7 to 800 Irani restaurants in Mumbai, now there are hardly 30 to 40,” shares Afshim Kohinoor, the third generation of the Kohinoor family that mans the cafe all on his own.

A file photo from 2009 showing Britannia & Co owner Boman Kohinoor (centre) at his iconic restaurant in Ballard Estate. Pics/Shadab Khan

As the iconic Britannia & Co completed 90 years, we stumbled upon a few secrets of this much-loved establishment. Opened up by Rashid Kohinoor on August 18, 1923, Britannia was a successor that became special in many ways.

Berry Pulao and Salli Boti
Berry Pulao and Salli Boti

Rashid Kohinoor, had come to Bombay in 1905 and opened a restaurant called Kohinoor. But events unfurled in a unique way when Britannia opened and till date, is honoured by the tricolour, the Union Jack and the Rose (of Iran) flags. The British had bestowed the license while it was on Indian soil but the fuel in the stove was all due to money that Rashid had got from Iran.

Did you know?
>> The name was because Rashid Kohinoor was presented with a condition by the British Commissioner at that time. “If a British name, you will receive the license in five hours but for an Indian name, the license would only come in six months,” quotes Afshim Kohinoor from memory. “Pat replied my grandfather, the name is Britannia & Co…and they shook hands,” continues Afshim.

>> Boman Kohinoor, the current owner and face of Britannia is as old as the restaurant.

>> There is a wall clock that Rashid Irani brought from his home and is now 96 years old. “It beats the restaurant and the winding clock is still ticking,” proudly conveys Afshim.

>> The restaurant used to earlier serve continental cuisine until 1982 after which Afshim’s mother, Bachan Kohinoor introduced the Berry Pulao and other Parsi dishes.

>> Diana Kohinoor, Afshim’s daughter who is just out of college has expressed interest to take the helm of the restaurant. 

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