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‘We will be back at some point’: Rustom’s Parsi Bhonu founder as restaurant prepares to shut shop this week

While Kainaz Contractor says they want to return at some point, as the brand is named after her father and means more than a business establishment, as of now, there is no clarity on how and when.

Written by Divya A | New Delhi |
Updated: June 26, 2022 7:50:12 pm
Contractor says she has been flooded with calls, messages and requests for one meal at the place before it winds up. (Picture Courtesy: Rustom's Parsi Bhonu)

They say farewells are hard, but for Kainaz Contractor, the founder of Rustom’s Parsi Bhonu, it has been a busy one. Ever since she announced on Friday evening, through a social media post, about the shutting down of the popular restaurant on central Delhi’s Bahadur Shah Zafar Marg, Contractor says she has been flooded with calls, messages and requests for one meal at the place before it winds up.

“It has been among the busiest weekends in the last eight years of the restaurant’s journey,” she says, adding, “Messages include those for the staff, most of whom have been there throughout and have now formed a personal connection with patrons.”

Contractor herself calls the move “unplanned and sudden” since the place was doing well, even during the Covid-induced lockdowns, but they have run into some issues regarding the space. (Picture Courtesy: Rustom’s Parsi Bhonu)

Contractor herself calls the move “unplanned and sudden” since the place was doing well, even during the Covid-induced lockdowns, but they have run into some issues regarding the space. While Contractor says they want to return at some point, as the brand is named after her father and means more than a business establishment, as of now, there is no clarity on how and when.

It was eight years ago that Contractor, then a food writer, along with her partner Rahul Dua, had introduced the capital to Parsi fare, courtesy of her Parsi roots and Dua’s familiarity with the concept. (Picture Courtesy: Rustom’s Parsi Bhonu)

It was eight years ago that Contractor, then a food writer, along with her partner Rahul Dua, had introduced the capital to Parsi fare, courtesy of her Parsi roots and Dua’s familiarity with the concept. Contractor says their aim was not to recreate the Irani cafes of Mumbai but to offer home-style Parsi food in Delhi, which one can relish at Parsi family tables and weddings. For that, she trained with her mother and aunts for months to learn how to create masalas from scratch. And then the ball was set rolling for a small, five-table eatery at Adchini.

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“It received a great response, and the space would usually fall short. So, we moved to the Parsi Anjuman at ITO a couple of years down the line. Although, the staff and the menu remained constant,” she says.

Besides functioning as a guesthouse for the community, the Delhi Parsi Anjuman houses the only fire temple in the city. And so, it became a perfect setting for Rustom’s as the city’s first spot offering a home-style Parsi thali in a modest setting.

When pandemic-induced lockdowns started in 2020, she adapted the menu to suit a delivery model and never struggled as such, she says, “which is why it is now hard to believe that we survived that but still have to shut shop for an unanticipated reason”.

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Just before the pandemic struck, Dua and Contractor had embarked on another plan – Bhawan – which was meant to be a street food restaurant but had to be turned into a cloud kitchen consequently. “We had invested time and energy on a space in GK II, which was due to open in 2020. But just a week before that, the pandemic started, and we had to let that go,” she recalls. Bhawan takes from the concept of regional street food served across state bhawans in the national capital.

Two months ago, as they figured that Rustom’s had to go, the duo focussed on realising the Bhawan dream. It is now running as a full-fledged restaurant on Gurgaon’s 32nd Avenue, and receiving a great response, says Contractor.

But all is not over for Rustom’s, she says. “It will come back as a restaurant, maybe by next year, but at another spot in the city, maybe in Gurgaon,” she adds. In the meantime, one can try reserving a table at the ITO outlet where nostalgia will be served along with authenticity, till this coming Thursday.

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First published on: 26-06-2022 at 06:37:37 pm

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