Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Peliti’s Restaurant, 11 Government Place East

An old photo of Peliti's from
Chevalier Federico Peliti was born in 1844, near Turin, and came to India in 1868, as the personal caterer for Richard SouthwellBourke, 6th Earl of Mayo, when he was appointed Viceroy of India. On a visit to the convict settlement of Port Blair, in 1872, Lord Mayo was assassinated by a Pathan convict named Sher Ali Afridi, with a knife.

Upon the Viceroy’s death, Peliti left Government House, and started his own establishment. By appointment to H.R.H., The Prince of Wales, and H.R.H., The Duke of Connaught, Peliti’s was one of the better known institutions of it’s day. By the 1890’s it had become quite popular among the business community of Clive Street, and many would flock to the establishment for their traditional Friday family lunch. Pelitis’ was famous for their three course lunch which could be had very quickly, for the somewhat hefty sum of Rs 1.50. Peliti was also well known as a great confectioner, and won an award at the Calcutta International Exhibition of 1889, for his 12 foot tall Eiffel Tower, “a miniature marvel in sugar”. Peliti’s operated in Calcutta until the 1930’s.

Peliti's today
In 1919, an expatriate businessman R.J. Coombes returned to Calcutta from a business trip to the USA with authority from Rotary International to organize a club in Calcutta. 45 of his European friends expressed interest, and it was in Peliti’s, on the 26th of September, 1919, that the first meeting of the Rotary Club of Calcutta was held, with a membership of 20. It was the first Rotary Club in India, and only the 3rd in Asia, the Rotary Clubs of Manila and Shanghai predating it by only a few months.

The marble plaque identifying the building
The building that was once Peliti’s still stands, although it has clearly seen better days. It is easily recognizable from the long balcony on it’s first floor which has a timber superstructure. It is currently owned by the LIC, who have plans of renovating it, or so we are led to believe.

The Original marble plaque, bearing the name of the restaurant’s illustrious owner, may still be seen, on the right of the main entrance. It reads “By Special Appointment to His Excellency, The Viceroy, Federico Peliti, Importer of English, French and Italian Provisions, Fancy Presents, and Wine Merchant”.

- by Deepanjan Ghosh

No comments: