German bakery still shut, legacy travels to Goa with ex-staff

Former manager opens two restaurants in neigbouring state that serve delicacies Koregaon Park joint used to be famous for, retains all surviving members of bakery staff

Even after two years, there are no signs of the reopening of the German Bakery, destroyed on February 13, 2010, in a blast that killed 17 people and injured over 50. Now, the erstwhile manager of the popular eatery, Gopal Karkee, has decided to carry forward the legacy of the bakery in his own way.

Taste of German Bakery: German guests at a restaurant in Goa
opened by Gopal Karkee, the former manager of German Bakery;
the delicacies available at the restaurants opened by Karkee

He has opened two restaurants in Goa to serve delicacies which were an integral part of bakery menu for almost 50 years. Karkee, who was shown the door by German Bakery owner Smita Kharose over a disagreement on the rent amount, spent almost two years looking for a place two open something that would serve the same taste as the bakery.

Finally, he decided to start his business in Goa. Now he has opened two restaurants in the neighbouring state, one called Dragon Heart and the other Willy's Restaurant and Bar on Big Vagator hill. "I have retained all my staff members who escaped unhurt in the bakery blast and all of them have joined me in my new venture on Chapora beach, Goa.

I had no other option but look for a place elsewhere as I had to support my staff, who steadfastly stood behind me." Karkee said. "And then an option came up. That new place in Goa will serve almost all that was in the German Bakery menu along with other varieties like Punjabi and other Indian food." He said he still missed the German bakery even though he had shifted base to Goa.

"For me it's a makeshift arrangement and I still crave for the old place in Koregaon Park," he said. "Sanyasis and foreign tourists coming for meditation shared a special association with the bakery. We used to open it at 7 am sharp, so all foreigners used to throng in to taste museli curd, museli fruit curd, fruit bowl and omelettes for their breakfast.

Brown bread and several varieties of pie were popular among our loyal customers and they continue to miss the place ever since the blast." Karkee said it was disappointing to know the German Bakery still remained closed. "I feel the bakery should have been started at the earliest as the delay in opening gives the impression that we can be terrorised in this manner. It is really disturbing," he said.

On the Staff trail
>> Maina, the wife of Gokul, a German Bakery waiter who died in the blast, and her mother-in-law have started a small shop in their native Nepal. The duo also built a small house with the compensation they got

>> Pravin Pant, the accountant and prime witness in the bakery blast who reportedly saw the planter of the bomb, is to get married soon and will join former manager Gopal Karkee and his staff in his new ventures in Goa

Blast survivors say

>> Ashley Lazarus, a blast survivor, said: "The bakery should not be reopened. People who go there will share some kind of apprehension and there will be some amount of fear in their minds." Lazarus and his friend Uday had gone for a coffee at the bakery on the fateful day. Lazarus sustained several injuries and his hand was burned. He said: "Each time the date (February 13) is mentioned some kind of fear strikes my mind. But I have moved on from the incident and life is about moving on, isn't it?" 

>> Uday Kedambadi, a business excellence professional, said: "I value life more than I used to after the incident. It was no doubt a near-death experience, but we have moved on and for us it's a story of the past. Looking at the way the case has progressed so far there is a bit of disappointment considering the fact that only one is arrested and six still remain absconding." Kedambadi was injured in the blast; he had five splinters in his eyes and ears and was operated upon several times.

Foreigners can't wait for reopening

Curious: Max and Lorenz from Germany

Max and Lorenz of Germany said they were curious about the opening of German Bakery. Max said he would like to visit the bakery after its reopening. Lorenz said: "We will visit the bakery and taste the German delicacies."

KP police station
The Koregaon Park police station was opened on January 16, after three years of constant follow-up. The police station has four officers and 60 policemen. So far 11 cases have been registered at the police station. Apart from one case of abetment of suicide, all other cases are of vehicle theft and chain snatching. Police Inspector Shivaji Kamble said: "We are ready for any unforeseen circumstances."

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