BY AUGUSTO RODRIGUES
Bob’s Inn was to English tourists in North Goa a meeting point that offered a mix of culinary delights from Goa and a flashback of English food under the watchful eyes of Pradeep Lawande, better known as Bob. Alas, Bob is no more. He passed away before the pandemic, and the place is managed by Vithal now.
With English tourists yet to come in numbers of years past, Bob’s Inn is yet to breathe the air of good times.
A visit to Candolim or Sinquerim was incomplete without a beer with Bob and a bite of sausage bread. For many, the day began with English breakfast – a speciality of the place – and ended with a Goan dish for dinner, with laughter intertwined with the banter through the day.
But, times are changing.
“Our foreign guests are yet to come. It looks like they will come next year because most are unable to access visas. We have Indians coming in and have adapted our menu to cater to their tastes. But this was not Bob’s dream,” says manager Vithal.
Bob would be open for a beer at 9 am and would close early the next day, with customers able to play board games as they savoured the drinks and food.
“The lifestyle then was different. In those days, the place used to be full of Goans, enjoying urrak at this time of the year. There is no one now. I think we are the only two Goans here and there is no urrak,” laments Simon, as he sits observing the pictures on the wall.
“In the old days, we had ninety per cent of foreigners and the rest were locals, many who came from as far as South Goa. We have neither crowd now and hence rely entirely on the Indian tourist,” admits Vithal.
“The cooks have all retired. I have a new team that caters to the tastes of Indians. The clientele today is not discerning patrons. There are no longer any restaurants on this belt that serve Goan food. It’s a mix of masalas that is served as Goan because today’s tourist does not know the difference,” claims Vithal.
“There was a time when one had to go to Calangute for a cup of tea because this area was so desolate. I think there was no other place closer to Bob’s in this area. But, today, the place is so full that one needs to look around for Bob’s Inn,” observes Herculano, who lives nearby.
“The sale of alcohol is down, and the demand for Indian food is good. There is hardly any demand for food from Goa. Most tourists prefer to buy booze from the shops outside and to buy food served in the stalls,” observed Vithal, who has been working at Bob’s Inn since the eighties.
“It does not feel the same. Late Pradeep had a style of his own that will never be able to be replicated. People visited the place more to enjoy time with Pradeep. He was a guy with a big heart, which is now missing,” says Arnold, a one-time frequenter of the place.
The English breakfast, some Goan dishes and desserts created by Bob are still available on the Bob’s Inn menu. The board games are gathering dust on a table and a few pictures, some of Pradeep, are the only remnants of the good old days at Bob’s Inn.