The Hush Post| 11:08 am|one-minute-read|
The iconic restaurant on The Mall Road, Shimla — Baljees will close for good on Wednesday.
The restaurant owner decided to close down the operations after she lost a four-decade-old legal battle. It will now be handed over to Lok Nath and Sons on July 15.
The restaurant was set up by Chandra Baljees in the 1950s and was known for its Indian and Continental food.
Baljees happened to be arguably the favourite eating joints for locals and tourists alike. One of the few restaurants which maintained the old English custom of serving heated plates for platter was a charm among food lovers.
It has hosted Prime Minister Narendra Modi, former Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai, film stars, Bobby Deol, Shamki Kapoor, Rajesh Khanna, Preity Zinta and the likes.
According to the Hindustan Times, Modi, who played an instrumental role in the formation of BJP-HVC combine government in 1998 when he was the in-charge for party affairs in Himachal, too visited Baljees numerous times while strolling on The Mall.
The owner of the building, Lok Nath and Sons, had filed a suit in court seeking increase in operation charges.
In 2015, the district and sessions court had ordered tenant’ eviction. The Himachal Pradesh high court hiked the operation charges from Rs 18,000 to Rs 1.35 lakh per month.
Following the high court’s orders, the tenants and the owners of the building moved the Supreme Court. However, it was in June 2018 that the owner of the restaurant, Renu Baljees, 72, agreed to vacate the premises and sought 12-month time to wind up the operations.
Renu had been at the helm after her husband Harsh Baljees was murdered in 1996.
“It is a sad day for me. I tried my best to save the restaurant from being closed down. As it was the court’s order, I had no other option,” she said talking to The Hindustan Times.
“I spent the better half of the life serving the people of Shimla. The customers used to call me up outside the space in restaurant to appreciate the food I cooked,” said chief chef Daulat Ram who spent 43 years serving the restaurant. Of the 70 staff members, half have been working in the restaurant for more than three decades.
“It was an honour serving here. Now, we don’t know where to go,” said 56-year-old Shiv Dutt, who had been working at the restaurant for 36 years.