A low profile restaurant in Bangalore catering exclusively to Japanese clientele has been shut down by city authorities for functioning without a licence.
The closure of the Uno In restaurant, started in 2012 and attached to a service apartment which houses Japanese visitors to Bangalore, comes close on the heels of reports in the media of the restaurant turning away Indian and other non-Japanese customers – even on occasions when they are accompanied by Japanese customers. The restaurant used its right to reserve admission to bar non-Japanese customers.
The Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) shut down the Uno In Japanese and service apartment for violation of its ‘Trade Licence’ agreement. The BBMP has claimed that the closure of the restaurant was not linked to the discriminatory practices adopted by the restaurant owners on the right to admission.
In its order dated July 1 the BBMP’s health department said that the closure order against the service apartment was in accordance with Section 461 of the Karnataka Municipality Act, 1964, as the license of the service apartment for the 2013-14 year had lapsed and the exclusive roof top restaurant was operating without a valid restaurant licence.
The BBMP also claimed to have found irregularities in licence display, infrastructure, certification of health and hygiene of kitchen staff and food articles. The order does not mention any discriminatory practices by the restaurant.
The restaurant and service apartment were being run by Nic U Iqbal, Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director of the Tokyo-based Nippon Infrastructure Company Private Ltd.
In a statement following the closure order by the BBMP, Nic Iqbal said the service apartment and its restaurant was exclusively contracted to a Japanese corporate entity leading to the facilities being made available only to Japanese clientele.
A local media sting operation had recently reported that the Uno In restaurant had not allowed Indians and other non Japanese persons to dine even when accompanied by Japanese customers. The sting was carried out after Indian customers who visited the restaurant after hearing rave reviews from Japanese friends were reportedly turned away by the restaurant management.
Media reports had suggested that the restaurant owners were intent on maintaining the culinary purity at the Japanese restaurant and wanted to avoid fine tuning food for non Japanese tastes.
In his statement the restaurant owner Nic Iqbal said his legal team was looking at the notice served by the BBMP for closure and would soon come out with its version of things.
The issue of the restaurant and its closure has triggered reactions from various quarters. Member of Parliament Rajeev Chandrasekhar, who is a resident of Bangalore, has written to Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah asking him to intervene in the issue and to book the restaurant owners under the Indian Penal Code.
The MP has called the discriminatory practice at the restaurant “a violation of fundamental rights” of citizens under the guise of reserving the right to admission. “Such a practice especially in a city like Bangalore where there is an amalgamation of cultures is shameful and a strong message must be sent by booking the violators under criminal laws,” Rajeev Chandrashekhar said.
The right to admission are typically enforced at restaurants and hotels in Bangalore on the grounds of dress codes or to prevent unsavoury elements access. “It is just a precautionary measure against unwanted elements and an assertion of our right over the property. It is used only in extreme circumstances and certainly not to discriminate,” said Neville De Conceicao, owner of Via Milano an Italian restaurant in the city.