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A bowl of chicken tikka next to flat bread
Photograph: Supplied

Paddington's post-party institution Indian Home Diner is at risk of closure

A petition has been launched to save the Oxford Street favourite

Written by
Elizabeth McDonald
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What kind of madman would think to stuff a garlic cheese naan with a curry as well as potatoes? More importantly, what drunken reveller at 3am would say no to such a Frankenstein's monster of a feed to soak up the night's sins?

For over a decade, Oxford Street post-party favourite, Indian Home Diner, has been serving such delights to weary clubbers until the wee hours, providing an important service as far as we're concerned to the nightlife of our fair city.

It would appear, however, that Woolahra Council has others plans, finding that the late-night trading breaches Indian Home Diner's DA agreement. And while this may technically be the case, we're not sure how a curry and kebab house tending to the carby needs of the post-pub crowd really does any harm. 

The diner applied in November to Woollahra Municipal Council to make their current opening hours – Friday and Saturday 11.30am to 3am, and Monday to Thursday and Sunday 11.30am to 11pm – official. However, the application was rejected in March. A few reasons were given in the refusal – including that the application didn’t demonstrate satisfactory crowd and litter management, didn’t "protect the amenity" of the adjoining residential properties and is "not deemed to be in the public interest". 

The saga feels a lot like history repeating itself in the no-harm-no-foul realm, with parallels to back in 2020 when Enmore's late-night LGBTQIA+ haunt, the Sly Fox had its trading hours slashed when a council do-gooder pointed out that the 24-hour venue was not, in fact, that at all, despite functioning as such for years.

The news that the independent business that has been sobering Sydneysiders up on some of their biggest nights out is under threat is in stark contrast to the NSW government's recent pledges to bring the nightlife and fun back into our city. The government's Nighttime Economy website features a mission statement claiming: "Nightlife is one of the most important parts of a city or town’s culture. Captivating entertainment, delicious food and drink, and a thriving arts scene is our vision for nightlife across the state."

Not only is the hospitality and nightlife sector struggling to recover from the impacts of the 2020 and 2021 lockdowns, its only just been released from the stranglehold of the lockout laws, that were introduced in 2014 and only lifted in their entirety on March 8, 2021.

In September 2020, the NSW government launched the 24-hour Economy Strategy, its long-term vision for Sydney. The strategy is designed as a collaborative effort, reflecting the work of many NSW Government agencies, an Industry Advisory Group and a number of Sydney councils actively involved in shaping the nighttime economy. Paddington and surrounds has historically been a thriving hub for arts, culture, and hospitality, with more pubs than you can poke a stick at. This includes the late-night trading Unicorn Hotel which trades until 3am every Friday and Saturday night, mere meters away from Indian Home Diner.

The community-focused group Bondi Lines (which became a household name in late 2021 and early 2022 with its real-time updates on wait times for Covid testing facilities) has kickstarted a petition to save the beloved eatery, citing that the shop is much more to the community than just a place to get a feed. One Bondi Lines group member stated on their Instagram: "The council has advised they’re no longer allowed to trade past midnight. Not only will you be deprived of your last meal of the night, but there will no longer be the community that is IHD afters." 

Bondi Lines has also launched a GoFundMe campaign, on behalf of owner Robert Chowdury, to help cover the revenue Indian Home Diner is losing due to its reduced hours. So far this has raised $109 of its $950 goal.

If you're keen to help our city's small businesses to thrive, why not check out some of our favourite cheap eats in Sydney here?

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