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Tarrytown’s Swagat to Permanently Shutter by Year’s End 

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December 22, 2021

By W.B. King

This New Year’s Eve will be bittersweet for Swagat Halal Indian Cuisine’s owners, employees and patrons. The beloved Tarrytown eatery will begrudgingly serve its last meals after nearly 11 years in operation.

“I am announcing very sadly that I am closing the restaurant permanently due to expired lease,” noted owner Humayun Khan.

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News first broke of the restaurant possibly closing in July 2020. At the time, The Hudson Independent reported that the building the restaurant currently operates in at 19 North Broadway in Tarrytown, which is also home to The Tapp, was purchased in late 2019 by Katonah Property Management Corporation.

The company’s chairman Bill Celaj said in August 2020 that “Mr. Kahn never opted to exercise his lease extension and basically told us that business wasn’t going well.” Celaj further explained that he and his partners hired a real estate appraiser who arrived at a rental price increase, which he called “fair market value.”

In late December 2021, a representative from Katonah Property Management Corporation said Celaj wouldn’t comment on the ongoing lease issue and is no longer a part owner in the building. This admission was confirmed by Kahn, who said that Nick Krasniqi, owner of Mr. Nick’s Brick Oven Pizza located at 21 North Broadway, now owns the building with a partner.

While Krasniqi was contacted for comment, a response regarding the future of the space currently occupied by Swagat was not received by deadline.

“I think he is planning to do a restaurant,” Kahn said, speculating that Krasniqi may expand his footprint into the adjacent soon-to-be vacated space. This move would end a longstanding history of Indian cuisine served at 19 North Broadway. Prior to Swagat, Café Tandoor was in operation.

Tragic Pandemic Tales

On the issue of “business not going well,” Khan said he agreed with Celaj’s 2020 assessment, which carried into 2021. The pandemic stifled operations and the virus sadly claimed the life of Kahn’s “best friend, partner and cousin,” Mohammed Abdul Baten who most patrons remember as the restaurant’s manager, always greeting diners with his signature, effusive smile.

Baten, Kahn added, was “tough” when it came to business and was responsible for Swagat’s reputation, which earned many loyal customers and coverage in publications, including The New York Times.

Kahn and Celaj’s disagreement centered on lease terms. According to Kahn, he was initially offered a five-year lease at approximately twice the monthly rate of his expired 10-year lease. Not satisfied with this arrangement, Khan took the dispute to court.

“After Mohammed’s death and COVID-19, I requested that landlord give me some credit for rent and to help me restart the restaurant. But the landlord disagreed,” Kahn said. “To reopen, I went to court for rent credit and paid more than $15,000 for lawyers.”

While Kahn received a one-year lease extension from the judge, he was still losing nearly $5,000 per month in overhead costs. The ongoing issues related to the pandemic and the proposed rental increase was simply too much to bear, he said.

“My family took pleasure in providing authentic Indian food for the region and was hoping to do so for many years,” Kahn said. “My cousin Mohammed gave his best effort to serve our customers and neighbors,” he added of Baten, who died at age 63 in March 2020 and is survived by his wife and six daughters.

Last Supper

Patrons seeking favorite dishes like lamb korma, keema dosa, tandoori chicken and paneer tiki masala, among other delicacies, have until December 31, 2021 to place their orders.

While Kahn didn’t indicate that Swagat would reopen in another location, he was nostalgic about the success the restaurant achieved.

“I tried very hard to restart and run the restaurant. I am leaving Tarrytown, but Tarrytown is not leaving my heart,” Kahn said. “Thanks to the community who help us to do business directly or indirectly.”


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