Thousands of Sydney-siders, including Federal MP Dave Sharma, are fighting to keep and Indian diner open until 3 am during the weekend.
Indian Home Diner (IHD) on Sydney’s iconic Oxford Street has become the talk of the town after Woollahra Municipal Council decided to reduce its operating hours to a midnight finish.
Robert Chowdhury, who started the joint 14 years ago, claims the action results from his “resentful neighbour’s complaints”.
“He had been threatening me for such actions since long only because my customers sit or stand in front of his shop at night,” Mr Chowdhury told NRI Affairs.
Indian Home Diner is a famous food joint for the partygoers. A stone’s throw away from the famous Unicorn Hotel, the place has been the go-to spot for late-night eaters as it offers garlic cheese stuffed naan with a curry of choice until 3 am on Friday and Saturday nights. One can see tens of people waiting in line at 2 am in front of the Indian Home Diner in Paddington.
Chowdhury pleaded with the council not to cancel his permit to open the joint till 3 am but in vain.
“The council told me that my shop could have an adverse impact upon the acoustic and visual privacy of neighbouring lands, and it was not in the public interest to let it stay open for longer,” said Mr Chowdhury.
However, people started knocking at his door when he closed the diner at midnight after easter weekend.
“These young kids were knocking at the door asking for food. They were hungry and had nowhere else to go. I felt like crying. I told them I am not allowed to open the shop,” Mr Chowdhury explains.
When Chowdhury’s young customers learned about the council’s decision, they decided to take the matter into their own hands. A community page called Bondi Lines, which around 50,000 people follow, has started an online petition supporting the diner.
“Indian Home Diner (IHD) holds a very special place in all our hearts. Its handcrafted Indian cuisine made with love you can taste makes it the premier late night food hub in the world. Although most famous for its #5 Garlic Cheese Naan Kebab with Alloo Chop, it is more than just a restaurant; it is a community,” reads the petition.
“The council has just reduced IHDs operating hours to a midnight finish. Not only will you be deprived of your last meal of the night, but there will no longer be the community that is IHD.”
“We have created a petition to reinstate IHD’s hours to what is right – 3 am close at the earliest. In addition, we have started a Go Fund Me campaign to compensate IHDs lost revenue from the reduced hours until normal operating hours are returned. A donation of $12.50 is just like buying a #5 after the Unicorn.”
Liberal MP Dave Sharma has also come in support of the diner. Calling it a “tragedy” and vowing to restore Indian Home Diner’s hours, he wrote to the council appealing not to cancel IHD’s permit.
“No good night out in Sydney’s east is complete without a stop at Indian Home Diner,” he wrote, alongside a photoshoot with Chowdhury.
Independent candidate in the seat of Wentworth, Allegra Spender, also weighed in.
“Business was hit hard enough during COVID, and even though I haven’t been to The Unicorn for a while, even I know Indian Home Diner is a national treasure. Let’s save it,” she said.
Robert Chowdhury is overwhelmed with the support and love shown by the community.
“I love my customers. They are not just my customers; they are my kids. I love watching them having fun and enjoying life. It makes me cry to see them hungry and unable to feed them,” says Mr Chowdhury, who is yet to hear from the council.