Pak Tea House, once the hub of Lahore’s intellectual life, has reopened for public after 13 years.
Former prime minister Mian Nawaz Sharif inaugurated the restaurant on Friday.
Sharif said Pak Tea House would again become a meeting place for writers, artists and intellectuals. He praised the city government for restoring its original plan.
He was accompanied at the opening by MNA Hamza Shahbaz and writers Intezar Hussain and Ataul Haq Qasmi.
Hussain said Faiz Ahmad Faiz, Munir Niazi and Ahmed Nadeem Qasmi had been regulars at the Tea House. He said many college students also visited it.
Pak Tea House will be looked after directly by the city government.
The restaurant has been renovated at a cost of Rs8.5 million. It can accommodate 60 people. Its façade has been restored and pictures of intellectuals, who patronised the place, are planned to be hung on the walls.
District Food Officer Chaudhry Ayub, who is in-charge of the place, said the menu would be decided by Saturday. He said the prices could be kept as low as possible.
He said provision of eatables was being outsourced to a catering company until a regular contract was awarded.
The tea house was established in 1940. It was then called the India Tea House. After Partition, it was renamed. The property was leased to Sirajuddin. On his death, the lease was transferred to his son, Zahid Hussain, who closed Pak Tea House in 2000 and set up a tyre shop there instead. Later, the place was rented to Bashir Sons who turned it into a warehouse.
In February 2012, the commissioner’s office took possession of the place. Hussain went to the court to stop city government from establishing the tea house.
The courts ruled against Hussain after the YMCA reported that the lease agreement stipulated that the premises would be used as Pak Tea House. A lease agreement for 11 months was then signed between YMCA general secretary Samuel Pervez and Data Gunj Baksh Town administrator Saira Afzal.
The agreement is extendable as long as Pak Tea house remains in business. The CDGL would pay Rs10,000 as monthly rent. There is no clause for an annual increase in rent in the agreement. The city government tried to vacate a tyre shop next to it offering Rs1.1 million to the tenant of the shop but failed to persuade him to leave.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 9th, 2013.