IT has been almost three years since a massive blaze gutted the Khushi’s curry house on Victoria Street.
Now owner Islam Mohammed has decided to move away from the Old Town premises and reopen his restaurant on Antigua Street before the end of the year.
The 47-year-old had hoped to repair the extensive damage caused by the fire and reopen the Victoria Street restaurant, which was completely destroyed in December 2008.
But he said an ongoing insurance case and the amount of work still required before a reopening led him to the new premises on Antigua Street.
Mr Mohammed, who lives in the Southside, said: “It will be a straight replacement for the Victoria Street restaurant.
“The insurance case is still ongoing and it’s quite a big fit-out to get the restaurant back to anywhere near where it was before. Bearing that in mind, we decided just to move on and move to somewhere where we could open this year.
“We thought we would open our doors somewhere else and breathe a bit of fresh air into Khushi’s again.”
Although Khushi’s bore the brunt of the blaze, which started in its kitchen, the fire also tore through the Liquid Room music venue and Finnegan’s Wake pub. Both premises have since reopened.
Mr Mohammed plans to organise a launch event for the official opening of the restaurant, which will offer a similar menu and also be called Khushi’s.
“It is in a good location, opposite the Playhouse, and we have got some good neighbours.”
Mr Mohammed still owns the Victoria Street premises, which he hopes to lease out after the repair work is complete.
“A number of people are looking at it who are interested in opening up a restaurant. For us, it was time to move on.”
The fire three years ago burned for more than 24 hours. Khushi’s sustained the most damage, and rows with insurer Norwich Union in the early stages delayed any quick return.
At one stage, Mr Mohammed even hired his own forensics team to speed up investigations.
Owner of the Liquid Room, John McWilliams, said he was “delighted” Khushi’s was relocating. He said: “I hope they care more about the surrounding businesses there than they did on Victoria Street.”