Monday, July 22, 2024


The weekday lunch buffet at The Maharaja

The weekday lunch buffet at The Maharaja could be back as soon as March, restaurant personnel say. (Photo: The Maharaja)

Lovers and lovers of Indian food won’t have The Maharaja as a Valentines Day option, but with luck the Harvard Square restaurant will be back in business in March.

The 57 John F. Kennedy St. restaurant was closed June 9 by a 12:30 a.m. fire, along with other businesses in the Galeria building including Bon Chon, Kaju Tofu House, Shake Shack, Staples, Yogurtland and Wagamama. Of those, though, only Staples and Maharaja were damaged, and Staples reopened quickly.

Maharaja, on the other hand, has been closed since, first because of “a long investigation by the insurance companies,” partner Raj Punjabi told the License Commission on Jan. 6. After that came the search for a builder, and finally a city permitting process.

Punjabi said he was in the final stages of the permit process for construction. “We haven’t started yet,” he said. “Hopefully we should get the permit in a week or so, and it looks like a six- to eight-week construction.”

The elegant restaurant should look the same, but have a little more space, he said.

Although the timeline he sketched out for commissioners had the restaurant back in business by mid-March, Punjabi and manager Aman Thakur asked that Maharaja’s alcohol license be held as inactive for six months – confirming that they could come back and ask for an opening before then if the work went well.

The 45-minute fire did $150,000 worth of damage, Fire Capt. Tom Cahill told the Cambridge Chronicle, with no cause immediately obvious.