The India Club, founded on The Strand in 1951, will host its final service on September 17, with suggestions the historic site will now be turned into a luxury hotel. The announcement follows the news that another of London’s longest-standing restaurants, Le Gavroche, is also soon to close its doors.
Yadgar Marker and his daughter Phiroza, who have held the lease on the premises for the past 26 years, told Indian press: “It is with a very heavy heart that we announce the closure of The India Club.”
Phiroza added: “I have been helping here since the age of 10. This is heartbreaking.”
The India Club, which for decades has served classic dishes such as butter chicken, masala dosas, and chilli paneer, has long played a vital role in serving the Asian community in London.
The restaurant, bar and meeting place was established by the India League. India’s first prime minister following independence, Jawaharlal Nehru, the diplomat and activist Krishna Menon, and Lady Mountbatten, the last vicereine of India, were founding members.
It was recognised as a welcoming space in London, where Indian visitors could “seek advice, connect culturally, and speak their native language.”
The Indian Journalist Association, the Indian Workers Association, and the Indian Socialist Group were three organisations that once met there.
Shashi Tharoor, MP for Thiruvananthapuram in Kerala, India, said of the news: “I am sorry to hear that the India Club, London, is to close permanently.
“As the son of one of its founders, I lament the passing of an institution that served so many Indians (and not only Indians) for nearly three-quarters of a century. For many students, journalists and travellers, it was a home away from home, offering simple and good quality Indian food at affordable prices as well as a convivial atmosphere to meet and maintain friendships.”
In more recent years, The India Club has been fighting to stay open. In 2017, it became known that freeholders Marston Properties had put in a planning application with Westminster Council to develop the six-storey building, which houses both the restaurant and the Strand Continental Hotel, and build new tourist accommodation. That year, more than 10,000 Londoners signed a petition opposing the application.
UPDATE: Marston Properties has since sent a statement to the Standard: “Goldsand Hotels, trading as Strand Continental Hotel and The India Club, and Marston Properties have agreed terms for the hotel, restaurant and bar to give up occupation of 143/145 Strand WC2.
“This will allow Marstons to run its own hotel from the property. Goldsand is looking for alternative premises to relocate the hotel, club, restaurant and bar and in the meantime wish to thank all their customers for their support and patronage over the years for which they are extremely grateful. Goldsand and Marstons wish each other well for the future.”
143-145 Strand, WC2R 1JA, theindiaclub.co.uk