People eating at Geetar Restaurant in Sharjah. Image Credit: Atiq ur Rehman/Gulf News

Sharjah: It could be the last supper at a restaurant that is loved by many people here.

Geetar Restaurant in Sharjah, which has served people for close to 42 years with authentic Gujarati food, is closing on Sunday.

Regulars at this humble eatery, where guests are treated with the motto ‘Athithi Devo Bhava’ [Sanskrit for ‘Guest is equivalent to deity’], are emotional that it is closing down. The building that houses this restaurant is slated for demolition and its owners are not sure if they would find another cosy place to continue with their tradition of serving their guests.

Geetar, which started its operations first in Dubai in 1963, when the city was just a hamlet without any of the infrastructural wonders of today, shifted base to Sharjah in 1972 with two branches — one in Rolla and the other on Al Wahda Street opposite the Sharjah City Centre. The latter closed 14 years ago, its manager Eshwarbhai told Gulf News.

He recounts the days when drinking water was a precious commodity and how it was brought in small tanks on carts for cooking and drinking.

The restaurant had been the go-to place for all vegetarians. In its heydays, during the 1980s and 1990s, when Sharjah Cricket Stadium hosted international matches, it catered to the players from the subcontinent. Several photographs of cricketers adorning the walls of the restaurant stand testimony to this.

The restaurant boasts several Bollywood stars among its guests. A photograph of Bollywood showman Raj Kapoor and superstar Rajesh Khanna surrounded by the eager staff of Geetar takes a place of pride on its walls. Other stars who visited the place include South Indian actress Shobhana and Sudha Chandran.

So what draws the hungry souls to this place? Its manager and the customers alike say the homely food and affordability.

For as little as Dh25, two guests can enjoy unlimited meals. The staff here keep serving hot, fluffy rotis (unleavened flat bread), curries, rice and fried Indian snacks until the guests say ‘enough’. 
Adam Ayub Bhokal, who has been serving rotis (bread) for close to 31 years, says it gives him great satisfaction to see a satiated look on the guests’ faces. The customers are welcomed with a glass of butter milk or mango juice — which is refilled as many times as you want.

The guests on their part say the staff play the perfect host. Jinal Gandhi, a dentist, who has been eating at Geetar at least once a week for the past four years, says she finds the food tasty and served in Gujarati style.

Akash, who works at a bank, says he likes the food here as it is not priced too high or spicy and is light on the stomach. He has been eating here regularly for about a year, he says.

But one thing that most people say is they are sad that it is closing down and hope their favourite restaurant opens soon somewhere in the vicinity.