The iconic Coffee House in Kolkata's College Street area on Friday announced closure till March 31 in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
A spokesperson of the decades-old joint told PTI that the management had no option but to close down for the first time since 1958 in view of the prevailing situation as public gatherings will endanger the health of patrons and staff.
There has been no advisory from the government but in view of the statements of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, urging to taking certain precautions and avoid large gatherings and maintain social distancing, the decision was taken, he said.
Having started as a coffee joint from Albert Hall in 1942 by the Coffee Board, the place was named 'Coffee House' in 1947 and became integrated with the city's heritage and culture - a meeting place for poets, artistes, literatti and people from the world of art and culture.
In 1958, the management decided to shut down the Coffee House but it was re-opened the same year after professors of then Presidency College and the Calcutta University rushed off a special petition to the government to save the heritage place.
The joint associated with the memory of luminaries like Satyajit Ray, Amartya Sen and Ritwik Ghatak had never faced such a closure since its inception, even during the Naxalite movement of the 70s, barring the developments in 1958, the spokesperson said.
"We will review the situation on March 31 and are hoping for the best. We will also wait for the government's decision. Let's hope the present situation ends soon," he said.
Many of the around 50 patrons who assembled today became emotional. They sang the famous Manna Dey number -- 'Coffee House'er shei addata aaj aar nei' (the coffee house won't be the same again), while drinking 'infusion coffee', the spokesperson said.
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