Bank takes over world's largest Indian restaurant

Wednesday, 18 October 2006, 12:50 Hrs
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London: The world's reputedly largest Indian restaurant, which could seat 860 dinners at a time and located in a former 19th century chapel in West Yorkshire, has been take over by the Bank of India over mortgage payment.

The Cleckheaton-based Aakash Restaurant has been in the news since it opened in 2001. It hosted a royal visit by the Duke of Kent in 2001 and was featured in BBC2's Restoration series.

Dewsbury-resident Mohammad Iqbal Tabassum, the owner, spent two years and 1.7 million pounds to convert the former Providence Place Chapel into Aakash Restaurant. He is now banned from entering the property.

The notice displayed on the front door of the restaurant and car park reads: "The Bank of India have entered and taken possession of this property as mortgage under a mortgage dated the fourth day of August 2000, made between Mohammad Iqbal Tabassum and the Bank of India.

"Accordingly neither Tabassum nor anyone claiming title under him may lawfully regain entry or retake possession of this property save by order of the court or with the agreement or consent of the Bank of India."

Ward councillor Ann Raistrick told the local media: "I wasn't aware that it was in difficulty. But if it is true it will be a great disappointment and a big blow for Tabassum. He put a huge amount of effort and energy into saving a listed building and trying to make a go of it.

"Everybody welcomed the project, and it seemed it was going to be a huge and stunning success. So it is a great pity if it has been a failure."

Keith Joplin, the area's trade coordinator, said he was waiting to hear from the solicitors who carried out the repossession on behalf of the Bank of India.

Joplin said: "If it is closed it is sad for the town. But we've got to remember that Tabassum's investment in the building put Cleckheaton on the map as well as saving a decaying building.

"If Aakash has closed, the building has been left in an admirable state and I'm sure it will be taken up by another developer."

Source: IANS
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