Indian restaurant to close as it searches for a new Westport location

Owners and staff of The Mumbai Times in Westport.

Owners and staff of The Mumbai Times in Westport.

Contributed Photo

WESTPORT — For more than 25 years, Mumbai Times has been providing traditional Indian cuisine to residents across town.

But as its lease comes to an end at 616 Post Road East, the restaurant will temporarily close its doors as the owner looks for a new location in Westport.

Tarun Narula, the owner, said the difficult decision to close on Jan. 2 came with the loss of their lease. In a post he wrote on the Mumbai Times’ website, he extended his gratitude to all of his customers.

“We would like to extend our heartfelt gratitude to you all for your love and support over the years. It’s been a pleasure to serve you and we look forward to re-opening this restaurant as soon as possible in a location nearby,” the post read. “In the meantime please visit us at Mumbai Times in Cos Cob and Dhabewala Indian Shack in Stamford for the same great food and service you have enjoyed.”

Narula said on Wednesday that while things were rough over the last two years with the pandemic, it was starting to look up. As the end of lease approached, he said he assumed that the building owner would want to extend the lease as he had done several times before. Mumbai Times initially signed a 10-year lease and then three five-year leases.

He said the landlord’s decision to not extend the lease could be because he plans to do something else with the building. Narula said all of the other stores within the building are already empty except the hardware store next to the restaurant.

The landlord could not be reached for comment.

“We have no complaints from anyone or the landlord,” Narula said. “Everybody has to take care of their business. We have been here for so many years and as long as we were good tenants, the landlord was good to us.”

Narula said his staff and chef, who has been there for 17 years, are eager to relocate and are hoping to find a smaller place to move to as soon as possible.

He said because of the issues they faced during the pandemic, a smaller location would benefit them with take-out, deliveries as well as fewer staff and lower rent, another issue the restaurant faced during the pandemic.

“The trend has moved more towards takeouts and deliveries so we don’t need as much space in the restaurant for diners,” Narula said.

The pandemic prevented restaurants from offering dine-in, which Narula said shifted the business to focus on take-out and deliveries. For Mumabi Times, that meant deliveries had to go through third party vendors. Narula said the problem with that is the vendors take 30 percent as commission.

“It’s a major chunk of our business,” Narula said. “The kitchen was always busy and the staff was busy, but 30 percent of our business was going to these third parties. We lost quite a bit. Who has 30 percent of profit in the restaurant business? No one.”

Narula add that for him, he wished the restaurant would have had another year on their lease. However, he said “we have to find something that better suits us now.”

“We definitely only want to stay in Westport. That’s where our base is,” he said. “Majority of our customer are from Westport.”

Since the news was published on the restaurant's website, Narula said customers from around town have been emailing him showing him their support. One customer, who works in real estate, has even been in conversation with Narula to offer his help in finding another location for the restaurant. Another customer has been calling around to see if they could find a nearby spot.

“It is very nice of the community,” Narula said. “They are sharing that they always loved our food and service. They are very saddened with this news and they are really hoping that we find a place nearby.”

“We are seeing the love our customers have for us,” he added.