Mumbai to lose another iconic joint! This time it is Mahim's Irani bakery

Updated: Nov 06, 2016, 10:33 IST | Shraddha Uchil and Ranjeet Jadhav |

In another instance of development tearing through Mumbai’s fabric, a Metro Line 3 underground station is set to gobble Crown Bakery, a 63-year-old Mahim landmark

Crown Bakery, a Mahim landmark that has rarely shut since its opening in 1953

A 63-year-old Mahim landmark is set to disappear by the year-end thanks to Mumbai’s growing space crunch, fuelled by infrastructure development. Crown Bakery, that has been a constant in the lives of Mahim residents since 1953, will be making way for the Metro Line 3 project.

“The Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation (MMRC) wants to acquire 5,147sqft space belonging to us for the Metro Line 3 project. We asked for space in Bandra as compensation, but the demand was turned down. Negotiations are still on,” says Rohinton Khosravi, 56, co-owner.

“I pay R50,000 annually to renew the bakery licence. It doesn’t make sense to shell out that large an amount if we’re going to have to vacate soon. It’s smarter to close at the end of the year,” he says.

Metro Line 3 is a crucial north-south corridor that will connect major business hubs like Nariman Point and Bandra-Kurla Complex, the domestic and international airports, and the industrial areas of MIDC and SEEPZ. It will also link various areas in the island city and the suburbs that are not served by the existing suburban railways, like Kalbadevi, Worli, Prabhadevi and Andheri (E).

MMRC will be resettling 2,807 units while constructing the Metro 3 corridor, including 327 units in Mahim’s Naya Nagar area, not too far from Crown.

Rohinton Khosravi, co-owner of the bakery

A bite of nostalgia
Established in 1954 by Khodaram Golabi, it was later taken over by his grandson, Rohinton Khosravi and his elder brother. Back in the day, Crown functioned as a restaurant-cum-bakery. Generations have grown up eating its brun maska and kheema pav, and spending leisurely evenings sipping on Irani chai. The glory days are long gone — the restaurant and adjoining wine shop shuttered a while ago, and today, the cavernous bakery wears a rundown look, with little in the form of decor aside from a daily produce of dainty baked goods that line the glass-and-wood counters.

But it’s the consistent quality of Crown’s baked goods, and Khosravi’s friendly banter that has seen loyalists return.

“When I was in college, we’d frequent the restaurant for brun maska and chai. The place had a leisurely air. We could sit there for hours without having to worry about the owner throwing us out,” says Sheryl Dalgado, 46, a teacher who lives near Mahim’s Chhota Dargah.

Asad Hajeebhoy, 55, a former Mahim resident, too, is disappointed at the news. “When we were teenagers, we’d head there every Sunday after a game of volleyball. You’d find people from all religions converging, and the atmosphere was ripe for healthy debate, political or otherwise,” he remembers.

Dalgado says, “The restaurant may not be around, but I still visit Crown for its bread and sandwiches. The store is always busy with people queuing up every morning and evening. I will be sad to see Crown go.”

What’s a holiday?
In its 63-year-old history, Khosravi says Crown has rarely ever shuttered, much in the tradition of most Irani cafés. In 1993, when Mumbai witnessed its worst riots, amidst the bloodshed, Khosravi and his staff continued to do their duty.

“I saw men being shot on the road outside. But how could we shutter when people needed something to sustain on?” said Khosravi.

Day in and day out, through curfew hours and when every other shop has remained shut, Crown has stood steadfast, offering its famed morning bread and biscuits.

“We stayed open even when Bal Thackeray’s passed away and a city-wide bandh was called. We kept the shutters down for barely two hours as a mark of respect,” he adds.

Crown’s famous pista biscuits. Pics/Atul Kamble

Will Crown re-emerge?
Maya Patole, deputy collector, resettlement and rehabilitation, MMRC, says, “An underground Metro Line 3 station is going to come up near the bakery. We require the space for the construction of an ancillary building, and to build entry and exits to the station.”

Adding that compensation talks are in progress, she says, “The matter regarding the bakery is being heard by the compensation committee. We don’t have a policy of giving land in place of land. We are using the Land Acquisition and Compensation Act to rehabilitate those affected. We will offer the best possible compensation as per the law.”

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