After 75 years of serving Mumbai’s best crab curry rice, Girgaum’s Anantashram shut down last month, confirming Maharashtrian residents’ fears that locality’s character has changed for good.
The restaurant, famous for its Gomantak cuisine, attracted seafood addicts in hordes from across the city. It was a dispute among the Khadpe family, which owned the place, which forced the closure.
Vishal Kamath (75), a resident, reminisces when Girgaum was synonymous with khanawals, a traditional Maharashtrian eatery.
“A number of unemployed people came from the Konkan looking for work in the nearby mills,” he said. “These eateries catered to that crowd and the cost was just four annas a head.”
Then, Girgaum had around 25 khanawals, but over time, they’ve either shut down or turned into restaurants. From being one of the earliest khanawals in Mumbai serving traditional Brahmin-style meals, the three-storey Madhavashram Private Ltd is now a last-of-its-kind venture in Mumbai.
The other much-missed factor is the decline of a Marathi cultural scene in the area. Because theatres like Roxy, Opera House were located there, the place was frequented by actors like Asha Kale and Ramesh Deo. “Many of today’s known personalities lived here when they were nobodies,” said Kadambari Patil, whose family moved to Mulund.
The reason, she says, is that Girgaum had lost its intrinsic Marathi character. It was no longer as safe and vibrant. Also, redevelopment of dilapidated buildings in Girgaum and Kher-wadi forced tenants living there for generations to move out.
“Tenants want the dilapidated buildings to be renovated in a tenant-friendly manner,” Rashmi Kadam, who left her small home for a bigger place in Thane three years ago. “But builders want to sell them and get a good deal.”