Mumbai: BMC orders closure of racecourse restaurant Gallops

The landmark eatery at Mahalaxmi Racecourse has shut and a notice pasted on its doors states it’s for “personal reasons”; sources said the BMC closure order comes because of lack of certain requisite food licences

Gallops, the restaurant at the racecourse, has shut. The Mahalaxmi landmark has not opened for business since Monday, and a notice outside the restaurant’s door states it has been closed for ‘personal reasons’. The owners and representatives refused to comment on the matter.

The notice outside the door of Gallops restaurant, yesterday. The banquet hall adjacent to Gallops, also run by the restaurant, had the same notice
The notice outside the door of Gallops restaurant, yesterday. The banquet hall adjacent to Gallops, also run by the restaurant, had the same notice

According to sources at the Royal Western India Turf Club (RWITC), the closure is because the eatery has been served a notice by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) with reference to certain licences. BMC’s Assistant Municipal Commissioner K Ubale, of G/South ward, however, said he was not aware of any such notice to the restaurant.

K Dhunjibhoy, RWITC chairman, also sounded surprised, but stated that the club, too, had received the BMC notice about Gallops’ closure. “It is because of certain licences that have not come through, though they have been applied for,” Dhunjibhoy said.

An RWITC source
stated, though, that the BMC order to the high-profile restaurant was served because it did not possess certain requisite food licences. The restaurant, in turn, has filed a writ petition in the High Court against the order, the source added.

While one awaits more clarity on the issue, Gallops is not new to controversy. For years, the racecourse’s oldest restaurant which opened shop more than two decades ago, much before new entrants Tote on the Turf and Olive Bar & Kitchen has been in the news for a variety of reasons.

In 2009, Gallops had gone to court against the RWITC, filing a suit for trying to dispossess them of the land. At that time, a club member had said that the fracas began when the RWITC sent a notice to Gallops to regularise an adjacent structure as per BMC strictures.

This was because the Turf Club, at that time, did not want to get into a collision course with the civic body, which has leased out the racecourse to the club. Incidentally, the racecourse’s 100-year-lease expired in 2013 and the turf authorities are still awaiting renewal.

Then, seven years ago, the city’s biggest restaurateurs and best known catering chains were locked in a bidding battle for running the prestigious restaurant with its enviable location. At that time, the Club had invited tenders giving an opportunity to other Food & Beverage (F&B) operators to manage it.

Yet, the current Gallops management, BJR, managed to win the tender at that time, beating other bidders in a high-profile war that hit the front pages of newspapers in the city. It has never been a smooth ride for Gallops, though it had somehow clung on tenaciously to the reins.

Other iconic Mumbai eateries that have shut down

Cafe Samovar (Fort): The restaurant at Jehangir Art Gallery shut down on March 31, 2015 following a court order. It was famous for its pakoda platter and pudina chai, not to forget the yummy kheema paratha

New Sardar (Lalbaug): Another famous eatery, it was a landmark in Lalbaug, it was known for its misal, puri bhaaji, batsal, the garlic cheese dosa, and grilled sandwiches

Dattatray (Shivaji Park): This place, frequented by the late Bal Thackeray, served delicious batata vadas and kotambir vadis

Mahabhoj (Matunga): Once a famous south Indian family mess, Mahabhoj shut down in the wake of inflation, and is now a fast food joint

Bastani & Co. (Dhobi Talao): This place was famous for its pattice, puddings, sandwiches and bun maska with chai

Salt Water Grill (Chowpatty): A serene sea-facing eatery, it shut down in 2007 due to licensing issues

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