Almost 20 years of Taj Mahal restaurant’s memories feared lost in New Farm fire – Sydney Morning Herald

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“We have insurance and the company is working on it now.

“We’ve grown quite a bit from when we took over [in June 2001] and we’ve done pretty well.”

New Farm's Taj Mahal Indian restaurant owner Nihal Mann.

New Farm’s Taj Mahal Indian restaurant owner Nihal Mann.Credit:Facebook

Mr Nihal was waiting for the all-clear from police investigators so he could get into the remains of his restaurant and see what he could salvage.

He said lost in flames was a digital slideshow of famous people eating at his restaurant over the years, which he played for customers every night.

Those celebrities included Australian actor John Jarratt, English singer Engelbert Humperdinck, Australian cricketer Matthew Hayden and Indian cricketers Anil Kumble, VVS Laxman, Virender Sehwag and MS Dhoni.

Also inside the restaurant were framed pictures of celebrities with Mr Nihal at his restaurant as well as a cricket bat signed by Indian cricket players.

The fire started at the back of Caneca Espresso & Bar and quickly spread, according to firefighters.

The fire started at the back of Caneca Espresso & Bar and quickly spread, according to firefighters.Credit:Toby Crockford

The other business gutted by the flames overnight was the recently-opened Caneca Espresso & Bar.

Emergency services were called to the corner of Annie and Brunswick streets in New Farm about 3.20am on Friday.

A Queensland Fire and Emergency Services spokeswoman said six crews battled the blaze, brought the fire under control just before 4am and extinguished the flames by 5.30am.

They also worked hard to stop the flames from spreading to a neighbouring third building, housing the Living Here property management office.

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Living Here partner Haesley Cush said he was devastated for his neighbours.

“By some absolute miracle, the devastation of our neighbours at Taj Mahal and Caneca, fortunately, isn’t our news, the firefighters did an outstanding job,” he said.

“The Taj Mahal has been an institution for decades, people love going and eating there, there are photos through the restaurant of celebrities, especially touring cricket teams.”

The Taj Mahal's partially-collapsed roof.

The Taj Mahal’s partially-collapsed roof.Credit:Toby Crockford

QFES incident controller Keith Hansen said the fire started underneath Caneca at the rear and quickly spread to Taj Mahal.

Caneca and Taj Mahal were extensively damaged, while Living Here suffered minor smoke and water damage.

Mr Hansen said firefighters at the scene were told of “untoward activity” in the alleyway behind the two businesses just before they arrived.

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