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In Pictures: Mumbai's dying Irani cafes
Iconic street-corner cafes are shuttering down one by one as peoples' tastes change and more glitzy eateries take over.
Last updated: 20 Mar 2014 20:36
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Mumbai, India's financial capital, has been famous for many things, from its dazzling film industry to landmark buildings resplendent in colonial architecture.

The city was also oddly famous for its street-corner 'Irani cafes' that sprouted up in the late 18th and early 19th centuries due to an influx of Persian immigrants.

Though the high-ceilinged cafes with mostly shaky tables and rickety chairs shared little of the glamour and glitter of the city's glitz, they enjoyed iconic status.

Selling sugary milk tea and bun-muska (freshly baked bread lathered with butter), the cafes had a quaint but welcoming quality: those thronging them included actors, workers and out-of-work youth with lots of time to spare.

But that was then. Today, the cafes are shutting down one by one, and no more than 25 of them survive. Fast-food restaurants, global cafe chains and changing attitudes are taking a toll on the cafes.

To adapt and sustain, many of the cafes have changed their decor and menus to serve a wider range of customers. But the battle is still being lost and last month, the news broke that B Merwan & Co., one of the best known Irani cafes, is also likely to shutter down for good soon.

Incidentally, in 1998, another popular cafe called New Empire gave way to one of the first McDonald's to be opened in Mumbai.

As the new edges out the old, Irani cafes, it seems, are no longer anyone's cup of tea.

 


/[Karen Dias/Al Jazeera]
Customers have breakfast at Kyani & Co. which opened in 1904 and is the oldest operating Irani cafe in Mumbai


/[Karen Dias/Al Jazeera]

A waiter prepares cups of the popular Irani chai or tea served with milk. 



/[Karen Dias/Al Jazeera]

Waiters at work in Kyani & Co. as images of Parsi family members and religious icons adorn the walls above



/Karen Dias

Ninety-two year old Boman Irani, partner of Britannia & Co. poses for a portrait in the restaurant with the Iranian and British flags hung above him and a portrait of Queen Elizabeth who had once visited the restaurant



/Karen Dias

Biscuits and confectionery sit in glass jars on the shelf of an Irani cafe. Most Irani cafes in the city are popular for their , bread, cake and biscuits.



/[Karen Dias/Al Jazeera]

News that B.Merwan & Co may shut down soon sent shockwaves across the city



/[Karen Dias/Al Jazeera]

Customers at Britannia & Co which was set up in 1923 in the Ballard Estate area of South Mumbai and was one of the first structures to receive a heritage status in the area



/[Karen Dias/Al Jazeera]

Opened in 1953, Yazdani Bakery is one of the most popular Irani cafes in Mumbai and is popular with students and workers



/[Karen Dias/Al Jazeera]

Customers dine at Kyani & Co. Most Irani cafes have high ceilings, bent wooden chairs, vintage clocks and posters



/[Karen Dias/Al Jazeera]

Established in 1913, Sassanian Boulangerie is named after the ancient Sassanid Empire that ruled Iran for more than 400 years



/[Karen Dias/Al Jazeera]

Meheraban Kola, one of the partners of the Sassanian Boulangerie, sits at the cash counter of the cafe which was started by his wife's great-grandfather who migrated to India from Yazd in Iran



/[Karen Dias/Al Jazeera]

Customers wait in line to eat at Brittania & Co which has become an institution and a landmark in South Mumbai



/[Karen Dias/Al Jazeera]

The menu at B Merwan & Co has not changed in hundred years. Merwan opens at 5.30 am and its freshly baked breads, biscuits and cakes are usually sold out by 7am



/[Karen Dias/Al Jazeera]

A man sips Iranian chai at Sassanian Boulangerie with photos of historical monuments from Iran on the walls in the background




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images:
/mritems/images/2014/3/12/201431213463328794_8.jpg;*;/mritems/images/2014/3/12/2014312134633215692_8.jpg;*;/mritems/images/2014/3/12/2014312134633450925_8.jpg;*;/mritems/images/2014/3/12/2014312134633668368_8.jpg;*;/mritems/images/2014/3/12/2014312134633809865_8.jpg;*;/mritems/images/2014/3/12/2014312134633950749_8.jpg;*;/mritems/images/2014/3/12/201431213463490194_8.jpg;*;/mritems/images/2014/3/12/2014312134634231747_8.jpg;*;/mritems/images/2014/3/12/2014312134634356157_8.jpg;*;/mritems/images/2014/3/12/2014312134634543357_8.jpg;*;/mritems/images/2014/3/12/2014312134634715576_8.jpg;*;/mritems/images/2014/3/12/2014312134634887831_8.jpg;*;/mritems/images/2014/3/12/201431213463528415_8.jpg;*;/mritems/images/2014/3/12/2014312134635200719_8.jpg
captions:
Customers have breakfast at Kyani & Co. which opened in 1904 and is the oldest operating Irani cafe in Mumbai;*;

A waiter prepares cups of the popular Irani chai or tea served with milk. 

;*;

Waiters at work in Kyani & Co. as images of Parsi family members and religious icons adorn the walls above

;*;

Ninety-two year old Boman Irani, partner of Britannia & Co. poses for a portrait in the restaurant with the Iranian and British flags hung above him and a portrait of Queen Elizabeth who had once visited the restaurant

;*;

Biscuits and confectionery sit in glass jars on the shelf of an Irani cafe. Most Irani cafes in the city are popular for their , bread, cake and biscuits.

;*;

News that B.Merwan & Co may shut down soon sent shockwaves across the city

;*;

Customers at Britannia & Co which was set up in 1923 in the Ballard Estate area of South Mumbai and was one of the first structures to receive a heritage status in the area

;*;

Opened in 1953, Yazdani Bakery is one of the most popular Irani cafes in Mumbai and is popular with students and workers

;*;

Customers dine at Kyani & Co. Most Irani cafes have high ceilings, bent wooden chairs, vintage clocks and posters

;*;

Established in 1913, Sassanian Boulangerie is named after the ancient Sassanid Empire that ruled Iran for more than 400 years

;*;

Meheraban Kola, one of the partners of the Sassanian Boulangerie, sits at the cash counter of the cafe which was started by his wife(***)s great-grandfather who migrated to India from Yazd in Iran

;*;

Customers wait in line to eat at Brittania & Co which has become an institution and a landmark in South Mumbai

;*;

The menu at B Merwan & Co has not changed in hundred years. Merwan opens at 5.30 am and its freshly baked breads, biscuits and cakes are usually sold out by 7am

;*;

A man sips Iranian chai at Sassanian Boulangerie with photos of historical monuments from Iran on the walls in the background

Daylife ID:
ec9c76c946a32e79ad145e6b3ace458a
Photographer:
;*;;*;;*;;*;;*;;*;;*;;*;;*;;*;;*;;*;;*;
Image Source:
[Karen Dias/Al Jazeera];*;[Karen Dias/Al Jazeera];*;[Karen Dias/Al Jazeera];*;Karen Dias;*;Karen Dias;*;[Karen Dias/Al Jazeera];*;[Karen Dias/Al Jazeera];*;[Karen Dias/Al Jazeera];*;[Karen Dias/Al Jazeera];*;[Karen Dias/Al Jazeera];*;[Karen Dias/Al Jazeera];*;[Karen Dias/Al Jazeera];*;[Karen Dias/Al Jazeera];*;[Karen Dias/Al Jazeera]
Gallery Source:
Daylife
Daylife Raw Data:
Mumbai's disappearing Iranian cafeshttp://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/Mumbai%27s_disappearing_Irani_cafesen-ussupport@newscred.comUntitled Site10Wed, 12 Mar 2014 13:33:11 GMThttp://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/Mumbai%27s_disappearing_Irani_cafes/slideshow/no-caption/47855e8b3b96f91b8626db86153c787b

Customers have breakfast at Kyani & Co. which opened in 1904 and is the oldest operating Irani cafe in Mumbai

http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/Mumbai%27s_disappearing_Irani_cafes/slideshow/no-caption/47855e8b3b96f91b8626db86153c787b[Karen Dias/Al Jazeera]

Customers have breakfast at Kyani & Co. which opened in 1904 and is the oldest operating Irani cafe in Mumbai

http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/Mumbai%27s_disappearing_Irani_cafes/slideshow/no-caption/8976a54a8f403a93ef0f7db5b34ba194

A waiter prepares cups of the popular Iran chai or tea served with milk. Images of Jesus and Faravahar, a religious symbol of Zoroastrianism adorn the walls

http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/Mumbai%27s_disappearing_Irani_cafes/slideshow/no-caption/8976a54a8f403a93ef0f7db5b34ba194[Karen Dias/Al Jazeera]

A waiter prepares cups of the popular Iran chai or tea served with milk. Images of Jesus and Faravahar, a religious symbol of Zoroastrianism adorn the walls

http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/Mumbai%27s_disappearing_Irani_cafes/slideshow/no-caption/06e365e68f3e75880240d425f8b50395

Waiters at work in Kyani & Co. as images of Parsi family members and religious icons adorn the walls above

http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/Mumbai%27s_disappearing_Irani_cafes/slideshow/no-caption/06e365e68f3e75880240d425f8b50395[Karen Dias/Al Jazeera]

Waiters at work in Kyani & Co. as images of Parsi family members and religious icons adorn the walls above

http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/Mumbai%27s_disappearing_Irani_cafes/slideshow/no-caption/e5166aa03246390f3f0d924ec6907017

Ninety-two year old Boman Irani, Partner of Britannia & Co. poses for a portrait in the restaurant with the Iranian and British flag hung above him and a portrait of Queen Elizabeth who has visited the restaurant

http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/Mumbai%27s_disappearing_Irani_cafes/slideshow/no-caption/e5166aa03246390f3f0d924ec6907017Karen Dias

Ninety-two year old Boman Irani, Partner of Britannia & Co. poses for a portrait in the restaurant with the Iranian and British flag hung above him and a portrait of Queen Elizabeth who has visited the restaurant

http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/Mumbai%27s_disappearing_Irani_cafes/slideshow/no-caption/c1f2accc6fde02e0f21d1226fe84e075

Biscuits and confectionery sit in glass jars on a shelf at Kyani & Co. Most Irani cafes in the city are popular for their baked goods especially, bread, cake and biscuits.

http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/Mumbai%27s_disappearing_Irani_cafes/slideshow/no-caption/c1f2accc6fde02e0f21d1226fe84e075Karen Dias

Biscuits and confectionery sit in glass jars on a shelf at Kyani & Co. Most Irani cafes in the city are popular for their baked goods especially, bread, cake and biscuits.

http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/Mumbai%27s_disappearing_Irani_cafes/slideshow/no-caption/80bc9b5c8f58eff8fdf47bca4e809238http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/Mumbai%27s_disappearing_Irani_cafes/slideshow/no-caption/80bc9b5c8f58eff8fdf47bca4e809238[Karen Dias/Al Jazeera]http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/Mumbai%27s_disappearing_Irani_cafes/slideshow/no-caption/eeaab2e26740a9c3ce96b87d421381d4

Customers eat at Britannia & Co. which was set up in the year 1923 in the Ballard Estate area of South Mumbai and was one of the first structures to receive a heritage status in the area

http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/Mumbai%27s_disappearing_Irani_cafes/slideshow/no-caption/eeaab2e26740a9c3ce96b87d421381d4[Karen Dias/Al Jazeera]

Customers eat at Britannia & Co. which was set up in the year 1923 in the Ballard Estate area of South Mumbai and was one of the first structures to receive a heritage status in the area

http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/Mumbai%27s_disappearing_Irani_cafes/slideshow/no-caption/84bd42ef2bec87b6e68aacd12f446210

Opened in 1953, Yazdani Bakery is one of the most popular Irani cafes in Mumbai and is popular with the city's student and working class

http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/Mumbai%27s_disappearing_Irani_cafes/slideshow/no-caption/84bd42ef2bec87b6e68aacd12f446210[Karen Dias/Al Jazeera]

Opened in 1953, Yazdani Bakery is one of the most popular Irani cafes in Mumbai and is popular with the city's student and working class

http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/Mumbai%27s_disappearing_Irani_cafes/slideshow/no-caption/38f80b108dfad53dc2bdfa0658f39ad9

Customers dine at Kyani & Co. with its high ceilings, bent wooden chairs, vintage clocks and posters, ceramic tiles, large mirrors and wooden tables with glass tops which are typical architectural characteristics of most Irani cafes in the city

http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/Mumbai%27s_disappearing_Irani_cafes/slideshow/no-caption/38f80b108dfad53dc2bdfa0658f39ad9[Karen Dias/Al Jazeera]

Customers dine at Kyani & Co. with its high ceilings, bent wooden chairs, vintage clocks and posters, ceramic tiles, large mirrors and wooden tables with glass tops which are typical architectural characteristics of most Irani cafes in the city

http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/Mumbai%27s_disappearing_Irani_cafes/slideshow/no-caption/01b248c7ee2f7913efbe850eaf4a4ae8

Established in 1913, Sassanian Boulangerie celebrated its 101 year anniversary this year. The restaurant is named after the ancient Sassanid Empire that ruled Iran for more than 400 years

http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/Mumbai%27s_disappearing_Irani_cafes/slideshow/no-caption/01b248c7ee2f7913efbe850eaf4a4ae8[Karen Dias/Al Jazeera]

Established in 1913, Sassanian Boulangerie celebrated its 101 year anniversary this year. The restaurant is named after the ancient Sassanid Empire that ruled Iran for more than 400 years

http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/Mumbai%27s_disappearing_Irani_cafes/slideshow/no-caption/62679be0ad7bc69add4b677adcf0249a

Meheraban Kola, one of the partners of the Sassanian Boulangerie sits at the cash counter of the cafe which was started by his wife's great-grandfather who migrated to India from Yazd in Iran

http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/Mumbai%27s_disappearing_Irani_cafes/slideshow/no-caption/62679be0ad7bc69add4b677adcf0249a[Karen Dias/Al Jazeera]

Meheraban Kola, one of the partners of the Sassanian Boulangerie sits at the cash counter of the cafe which was started by his wife's great-grandfather who migrated to India from Yazd in Iran

http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/Mumbai%27s_disappearing_Irani_cafes/slideshow/no-caption/96d0e3fa8cf9975e442f0f802e5386c2

Customers wait in line to eat at Brittania & Co. which has become an institution and a landmark in South Mumbai

http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/Mumbai%27s_disappearing_Irani_cafes/slideshow/no-caption/96d0e3fa8cf9975e442f0f802e5386c2[Karen Dias/Al Jazeera]

Customers wait in line to eat at Brittania & Co. which has become an institution and a landmark in South Mumbai

http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/Mumbai%27s_disappearing_Irani_cafes/slideshow/no-caption/583ef1c81d70c1fcaa405359323239a9

Customers eat and drink at B. Merwan & Co. where the menu has not changed in hundred years. Merwan's opens at 5.30 am with customers waiting in line to buy freshly baked breads, biscuits and cakes which are usually sold out by 7am

http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/Mumbai%27s_disappearing_Irani_cafes/slideshow/no-caption/583ef1c81d70c1fcaa405359323239a9[Karen Dias/Al Jazeera]

Customers eat and drink at B. Merwan & Co. where the menu has not changed in hundred years. Merwan's opens at 5.30 am with customers waiting in line to buy freshly baked breads, biscuits and cakes which are usually sold out by 7am

http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/Mumbai%27s_disappearing_Irani_cafes/slideshow/no-caption/23e042e00f44abadd6c8602dcb8a9a62

A man sips Iranian chai at Sassanian Boulangerie with photos of historical monuments from Iran on the walls in the background

http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/Mumbai%27s_disappearing_Irani_cafes/slideshow/no-caption/23e042e00f44abadd6c8602dcb8a9a62[Karen Dias/Al Jazeera]

A man sips Iranian chai at Sassanian Boulangerie with photos of historical monuments from Iran on the walls in the background



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