Lessons Samovar taught us

Kala Ghoda’s iconic restaurant, Cafe Samovar housed at the Jehangir Art Gallery will close shop end of the month. It goes out in style marking 50 years of existence this year. A court order will see the curtains fall on Samovar, which had been locked in a legal battle for its survival through the past few years, and will now have to vacate the space.

The owners had garnered considerable support the last time around. A huge signature campaign and number of petitions followed but now, the party looks to be over.

Samovar, the bastion of bohemia where artistes and intellectuals traded ideas over tea and parathas has stood the test of time in an increasingly competitive age. While some of it is because of the aura surrounding the cafe, it is also an example of if what you serve is good, patrons will keep coming back. It also made a case for old fashioned values and a feeling of home, today, when many restaurants are just eat ‘n’ go places.

With Samovar gone, yet another landmark goes off the Mumbai map. One cannot stop Samovar from closing, after all, a place cannot survive on nostalgia and petitions alone, but one can certainly take some lessons from its five decade-old existence.

From having an immense connect with the people of Mumbai, to giving patrons the feeling that this is their space to ideate, talk, discuss and perhaps even ponder the bigger questions of life at the cost of sounding pretentious, Samovar managed to keep the loyalists coming in because it has soul.

The cafe, just 700 feet in all, taught that you need not have acres of space, just a big heart to fit in your patrons. It weaved itself into the fabric of Mumbai with enviable ease and stayed there. A case of longevity in an instant world.

Farewell, Sam. We doubt very much that there would be another like you, but you have given us memories to live on and lessons to learn. Your epitaph should read: Samovar was for all. You, me and temperamental artists. Sometimes, more temperament than art. But always for Mumbai. Forever Mumbai.

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