Who's the real Khan Chacha? That's the question on Delhiites' lips thanks to a business dispute between the landlord and the family running this popular kebab-and-rolls eater. The fallout - The abrupt closure of the Khan Market outlet last week and the recent launch of a casual diner under the 'Khan Chacha' banner in Satya Niketan.
"The latter is not ours," asserts Mohd Javed, 28, elder son of 'Khan Chacha' Haji Banda Hassan. Javed, along with brother Mohd Saleem, has been running the shop that their father established in the same market 37 years ago (they've been operating out of the present location for the last six years). Says Javed, "Six months ago, Rajiv Goel (the landlord) spoke to us about opening a franchise. He said we'd open a 6-7 storey kitchen from where we'd deliver fresh and frozen rolls and masalas across the city."
The brothers refused on the grounds that this would be a deviation from what Khan Chacha is known for - fresh, straight-off-the-grill kebabs and rolls. Javed adds, "Without telling us, Goel got 'Khan Chacha' registered in his name."
Matters came to a head when Goel learnt the brothers were telling customers that the Satya Niketan outlet was not associated with them. Egged on by patrons, Javed and Saleem now plan to take the matter to court, even as they hunt for new premises.
Goel, however, maintains that Haji Hassan and his sons' real value was just their presence at the outlet. "Have you ever seen them making the kebabs there? Most of the workers there are mine. Even the name 'Khan Chacha' was given in the last three years..." He adds, "I made them an offer of a salary and a seven per cent commission on sales at all new outlets, but they refused...we could've talked things through, but they're just trying to gain sympathy."
Meanwhile, Khan Chacha fans are a bitter lot. "How can anyone other than Khan Chacha claim the name? This is greed," writes Aasim Khan, one of the over 12,000 members of the Khan Chacha fan group on Facebook. Says Abha Goel, 23, "Khan Chacha is an institution...its charm lay in the fact that it was a hole-in-the-wall place." "They should fight to get the name back," maintains Ranjan Khosla, 20, a Delhi University student.