Shimla’s Baljees restaurant to shut on July 10 after losing legal battle

Baljees, the iconic restaurant on The Mall, is all set to close down on Wednesday.

The owner of the restaurantdecidedto close down operations after losing a four-decade-old legal battle.

It will be handed over to Lok Nath and Sons on July 15.

Chandra Baljees had set up the restaurant in 1954.

The restaurant, known for its Indian and Continental food,expanded in 1972.

Baljees,the oldest restaurant on The Mall, is one of the favourite eating joints for locals, celebrities and political leaders. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, former Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai, former chief ministers Thakur Ram Lal, Virbhadra Singh, Prem Kumar Dhumal, andincumbent CM Jai Ram Thakur have been patrons of the place.

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 Baljeesnumerous times.

The owner of the building, Lok Nath and Sons, had filed a suit in court seekingincrease 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 June2018 that the owner of the restaurant, Renu Baljees, 72, agreed tovacate the premises and sought 12-month time to wind up the operations .

Renu had beenhandlingthe family business 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 .

The decision to close down the restaurant has not gone down well with the staff and local residents, particularly the daily customers .

“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 Shiv Dutt, 56, who had been working at the restaurant for 36 years.

First Published:
Jul 09, 2019 00:50 IST

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