The India Club — with its beloved restaurant that's been dishing up south Indian cuisine to Londoners for 70 years — is closing next month.
The venue — which was founded in Craven Street in 1951 and later moved to its current location on Strand — is a favourite haunt for in-the-know Londoners hankering for an affordable lamb bhuna and cold Cobra in central. But after various closure scares over the past decade, it sounds like the India Club is finally throwing in the (hot) towel.
The Telegraph India reports that Yadgar Marker and his daughter Phiroza, who lease the building, have announced the club's demise "as almost a death in the family". Says Phiroza: "It is with a very heavy heart that we announce the closure of the India Club, with our last day open to the public on September 17.
"We have run the place for 26 years. I have been helping here since the age of 10. This is heartbreaking."
The closure comes, reports the Telegraph India, as part of a "long and vengeful campaign to evict the India Club from the premises" by leaseholders Marston Properties, who will reportedly gut the building on 143-145 Strand, and flip it into a luxury hotel.
The India Club was formed as a bar, restaurant and meeting place by the India League including Jawaharlal Nehru (the first prime minister of India), V. K. Krishna Menon (described as 'the second most powerful man in India') and Edwina Mountbatten, the last vicereine of India. The Indian Journalist Association, the Indian Workers Association and the Indian Socialist Group of Britain often met at the club.
Londonist visited the India Club in 2017:
I ascend the black and white tile-chequered stairs, following the increasing clamour coming from above. At the second floor, I turn the corner into the restaurant; a pale yellow room with faded pictures hanging on the walls. The tables are already half-full; on them sits a cross-section of London on a chilly Tuesday night. City boys in pastel-coloured shirts are knocking back pints; pensive, bespectacled gents are eating alone with their noses stuck in paperbacks; and raucous groups of colleagues on Christmas dos out are pulling crackers and cackling. Students from nearby King's College pile in, red-faced from the cold, and squeeze tightly onto the formica tables, ordering lassis and bowls of yellow dal which make their glasses steam up.
Read our full feature on the India Club when we visited six years ago.