On Friday morning, Mumbai landmark, Mani’s Lunch Home downed its shutters in Matunga for the last time after a 14-year innings. The building it was located in is going in for redevelopment, so it is pack-up time for Mani’s, at least at the current venue.
The going is tough, because it is monsoon and the owner claimed that he had asked the landlord for more time as he had to still zero in on an alternate venue, but they did not relent. So, Mani’s faced a slew of newspaper reporters on a rain-swept Friday, as employees cited their woes, with the shutters down.
The time span, 14 years, is not too long when you consider the other establishments in the vicinity, like Café Madras for instance, which marked 75 years recently. Yet, Mani’s Lunch Home was an important milestone on the city’s food map. The strictly functional, non-nonsense air to it, its decor and competitive pricing is symbolic of how simplicity and being true to yourself is the strongest foundation on which to build a legacy.
In an age of rapid change, where restaurants come and go, and pop-up eateries are in fashion, Mani’s Lunch Home was a survivor because it had one USP — great food.
Establishments like Mani’s Lunch Home need to survive because they are places that give pockets of the city some soul. They are also a barometer of change. Take for instance Mani’s mixed patronage — Gujarati and South Indian — which also holds a mirror to the changing demographics in Matunga.
These stalwarts stand stoic in the face of food fads and offer Mumbaikars quick, affordable, no-frills and no-fuss food. In an age where appearances take precedence over real achievements and hype rules over substance, it is places like Mani’s Lunch Home that prove that basic is classic. Here’s a toast to Mani’s — with a glass of the best filter kaapi, of course.