'We want to keep Anant Ashram alive at all costs'

Published: Dec 23, 2010, 07:22 IST | Fiona Fernandez |

Fashion designer and Khotachiwadi resident James Ferreira is confident that a fresh initiative will ensure the popular seafood joint in Girgaum doesn't shut down for good

Fashion designer and Khotachiwadi resident James Ferreira is confident that a fresh initiative will ensure the popular seafood joint in Girgaum doesn't shut down for good

46, KHOTACHIWADI is an address that's etched in the minds of Goan-Malwani food lovers across the city.
 
Anant Ashram, the iconic seafood restaurant started in the 1950s by the Khandpe family, has been through several phases of closure.


Anant Ashram's owner in the kitchen

Efforts to keep this integral element of Khotachiwadi's culture and heritage alive received a shot in the arm recently with fashion designer James Ferreira throwing his hat in the ring.

"The family is now planning to open a restaurant in Goa.

Besides, there was a problem with a licence for the wood-fired kitchen," said Ferreira, speaking to MiD DAY about the reason behind the owners deciding to shut shop.

The restaurant had last downed shutters in late 2009. "We are trying our best to work together.
 
A whole bunch of heritage-loving, conscientious citizens have come forward, along with a bank, to keep the eatery alive," he continued, adding that the group was confident that the initiative would meet a successful, happy ending.

"If the issue isn't taken up now, before we know it, another iconic landmark will be wiped off the face of the city for good," he said.

Those who have been following the gradual phasing out of the city's cafes are concerned that even Cafe Britannia might meet the same fate since the younger generation appears reluctant to carry the mantle forward.

"It's absolutely necessary for the government and society to step in. We need to preserve our heritage. We've allowed so many iconic restaurants to disappear and seem to be on the verge of losing another," said Ferreira, the concern in his voice echoing that of every other heritage guardian in the city.

Cafes in the coffin
- Cafe Naaz at Hanging Garden, which opened in 1966, closed in 1999
- Cafe Brabourne, Marine Lines, was opened 77 years ago, but shut shop in 2008
- Cafe Samovar at Jehangir Art Gallery, Fort, was started in 1963 and was forced to shut down around two years ago, but reopened later

Girgaum

Centuries ago, Girgaum was a plantation, filled with palm trees and blessed with tropical vegetation. It was a colony of land tillers.

When the walls of the original fort were demolished in the 1800s, the population from the area moved towards the native town (of which Girgaum was a part).
 
The ruling East India Company ordered that the land should be divided beyond the fort to develop its resources and hence most of the land here was leased to individual cultivators.

Khotachiwadi was assigned to Dadoba Waman Khot, a land revenue officer. He collected the produce of the land given on lease.

Initially, the Hindu community predominantly occupied the area.
 
He later sold these plots to his East Indian Christian friends in the area, whose descendants own most of the present-day quaint bungalows that now face the threat of being demolished.

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