It Happens

Alphabet Soup for the Soul

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Which Bhagat Tarachand do you want to dine at: B,G,K,R or S?
In the crowded lanes of Zaveri Bazaar, Mumbai’s bling-street, it is easy to be directed to Bhagat Tarachand. The 50-plus year-old restaurant is a landmark in the area. But once one enters the narrow Shaikh Memon Street, a diner has to make his question more specific, for there are five restaurants by the same name to choose from on either side of the lane, separated only by their initials—B, G, K, R and S.

Hitesh Chawla, partner-owner of B Bhagat Tarachand, shares an interesting nugget about their co-existence. “My great grandfather K Tarachand opened this place in Karachi in 1895. After Partition, he and four of my grandfathers migrated to Mumbai.” Tarachand bought a plot at Zaveri Bazaar and opened the restaurant, what is now known as K Bhagat Tarachand. As their family grew, a single source of income proved insufficient.

“That time, competition was not a big thing. [They thought] I will stay near my brothers. If there is any emergency, I [could] always call him,” says Hitesh.

The Chawlas started with buying plots at a shouting distance of each other. Each of the restaurants was given an initial as per the name of the son managing the outlet. Today, Hitesh belongs to the fourth generation of the 50-member strong Chawla family, all of whom are in the hospitality business in Mumbai.

Since it is located in the heart of a business hub, most of its customers are working professionals looking for lunch. Ergo, the Sindhi management of the restaurants follow the Udipi pattern of sharing tables. While prices differ, the restaurants serve similar Punjabi fare.

Each of the restaurants has a loyal customer base. One such loyalist is Ketan Chougule, an imitation jewellery shop owner in his late forties working a few blocks away from the eateries. Ever since he moved to Mumbai from Surat about 20 years ago, he has been loyal to one initial and one meal. Once in every two days, as he likes to put it, “Apna thali fixed hai (I have a regular meal of a thali).”

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