How Bengaluru’s iconic restaurants have stood the test of time and survived a pandemic

These eateries have been resilient to time, globalisation, and now a contagion, regardless of — or, maybe, as a result of of — their reluctance to alter


Since 1924

For an eatery that is practically a century outdated, it is exceptional to listen to from its third-generation co-owner, Hemamalini Maiya, that it shut up store solely as soon as earlier than the pandemic. “During the emergency, the government fixed the prices, which were not sustainable. So, we used to put up a board that said, ‘Losses for the Day’,” she recollects. It was a snarky but oblique protest.

Mavalli Tiffin Rooms (MTR) has survived a number of political turbulences, protests, a world struggle, and now a pandemic.

Maiya attributes the model’s longevity to its adherence to custom. “It’s a nostalgic brand. When somebody from Bangalore enters MTR, they have memories associated with it. They don’t see much has changed at all. It’s the same kitchen, same floor, most of the kitchen staff are pretty old. The formulas and recipes haven’t changed. So they see a continuance of things. For the outsiders and new customers, every branch has boards narrating the history of MTR.”

But of course, fairly a few issues have modified at MTR. The cooking course of, for example. “It’s not easy anymore to find instinctive cooks who know the right amount of the ingredients. And, with more branches now, we have to be consistent. So, we’ve centralised our masalas. All our cooks are taught a standardised set of steps,” says Maiya.

These modifications, nevertheless, aren’t obvious. For some of Bengaluru’s older technology, MTR is a half of day by day life. Without a cup of espresso and a plate of idli, they discover one thing amiss.

This routine, Maiya says, is progressively resuming. “Thankfully, we tided over the two waves. Hopefully, we don’t see another one.”

Lakeview Bar

Since 1930

Nostalgia engulfs Anish Vakharia when he shares his earliest recollections of Lakeview Milk Bar, which he now runs together with his mom, Kalpana. His thoughts travels again to the early ’90s. He seldom went dwelling after college. His father, Deepak, would take him to the predominant department on MG Road — a quieter, uncongested, metro-free MG Road, which now exists solely in pictures and recollections of Bangaloreans belonging to Anish’s technology and the ones earlier than his.

Lakeview was began in 1930 by James Meadow Charles. When India turned unbiased, the Englishman bought the place to a 19-year-old Gujarati, Vrajlal Jamnadas. In 2001, his son, Deepak, took over the enterprise. After his passing away in 2011, Anish and his mom have been taking care of it.

In all these years, the ice-cream parlour by no means shut for a extended time. Until the pandemic, that’s. “First time in ninety years! It was strange. Things were uncertain,” says Anish, “Business, at that point, wasn’t the top priority. We wanted everyone to be safe. But we reopened after the first lockdown to ensure uninterrupted, unreduced salaries to our staff.”

He observes a few modifications upon reopening. “There’s understandably a lot more focus on hygiene. Deliveries have picked up. The elderly customers have significantly reduced. Because of the 9:30 pm curfew, we miss out on a lot of post-dinner crowds.”

Business is not again to what it was once. But Anish is aware of it’s going to slowly enhance. For, there are others like him in Bengaluru for whom Lakeview was a half of their childhood.

Vidyarthi Bhavan

Vidyarthi Bhavan

Since 1943

The fixed buzz of the crowds and the cramped house at Vidyarthi Bhavan in Gandhi Bazaar mightn’t essentially evoke a sense of awe when one dines there. But this restaurant, older than this nation, remains to be a lot sought-after. Its current proprietor, Arun Kumar Adiga, amazingly learnt that it is pandemic-resistant too. “We are almost back to 90 to 100% pre-COVID level,” he says. “It was difficult to get adjusted to the new normal after the first lockdown. We made thermal scanning, sanitisation, and masks compulsory. Last year, we even installed table partitions to make people feel safer. But after the second lockdown, people seem to have adjusted.”

The restaurant will get about 1,000 clients on weekdays and greater than 1,500 on weekends. During this 12 months’s Ganesh Chaturthi, it bought much more. And, thoughts you, a meal at Vidyarthi Bhavan is not simple. It’s nearly perenially full. You have to attend till your identify is named.

The location could be a cause. Gandhi Bazaar, in any case, is a bustling neighbourhood. But then, not all eateries there have flourished like Vidyarthi Bhavan.

Why, then, do folks preserve thronging this decades-old modest eatery? Well, modesty itself is a cause. The homeowners thought-about demolishing the outdated constructing to have a two-storied one as an alternative to accommodate extra folks. But they dropped the concept. “When I ask our customers what makes them come back to our restaurant, it’s not just the food, it’s their emotional connection with the place,” says Adiga. Hence, you will see the similar marble-top tables, Mangalore-tiled roof, blue-shirted waiters, and most of all, the thick-yet-crispy benne dosa.



Since 1952

When Koshy’s reopened in October after the lockdown final 12 months, historian Ramachandra Guha, one of Bengaluru’s common residents, wrote about it in his column on The Telegraph. “I may die before my favourite café does. I can probably (just about) live without music, cricket, and even books, but life without Parade’s is impossible to contemplate.”

Parade’s as a result of Guha and some Koshy’s patrons from his technology choose to make use of its authentic identify. PO Koshy, a Syrian Christian from Kerala, began a bakery in 1940. Twelve years later, it branched out into a restaurant on St Mark’s Road. Jawaharlal Nehru, Nikita Khrushchev, and Queen Elizabeth II, reportedly, are amongst those that have dined there.

Though most of its clients are from the higher or upper-middle class, the atmosphere of the place is way from solemn, particularly in its non-air-conditioned portion. Santhosh Koshy, who runs the place together with his brother, Prem, says, “We started the AC dining area, Jewel Box, for those who wanted fine dining. But a lot of them are fond of the noisier, non-air-conditioned part. Even I used to call it a market.” But he concedes folks used to choose the market-like buzz. For many years, it has been the assembly spot for attorneys, lecturers, college students amongst others.

Due to its proximity to English media homes, Koshy’s is frequented by journalists too. This is probably why there have been a number of stories and articles about its first-ever extended closure final 12 months.

Koshy believes it could be a minimum of two years for the enterprise to return to the pre-pandemic degree. He realises that patrons of his technology, who’re of their 6os and 70s, are slowly fading away. But he is hopeful. “Some of our customers, who first came here five-six years ago, now have young families. They bring their kids along. It’s nice to see the younger ones appreciate this old place.”

The Only Place

The Only Place

Since 1965

Faraz Ahmed, the current proprietor of The Only Place, prefers to rely his blessings. His 56-year-old institution managed to outlive a pandemic that engulfed many companies.

The restaurant on Museum Road, well-known for its steaks, shut only for a whereas earlier than opening for takeaways. The demand for deliveries was a revelation for Ahmed. “Steaks are best had at the restaurants; if you pack them home, it won’t be as good. So, we have never really focused much on deliveries. But we got plenty of orders during the pandemic,” he says. He additionally despatched his non-kitchen employees for deliveries, so that they bought paid as an alternative of third-party supply apps.

While monitoring the orders, Ahmed was additionally stunned at the extent of his buyer base. “We assumed our customers were from Koramangala and Indiranagar. But we got orders from all parts of Bangalore, stretching from Yelahanka to even Jayanagar and JP Nagar, which I thought were hardcore vegetarian areas.”

Like different legacy restaurants in the metropolis, The Only Place is reluctant to alter. “When you have a heritage place like Koshy’s, MTR, or The Only Place, people don’t come for the new things; they come for that thing that’s always been there,” says Ahmed, “People occasionally ask me, ‘Why don’t you open a new place?’ I tell them, ‘It’s called The Only Place. The name itself stops me from doing so.'”

Airlines Hotel

Airlines Hotel

Since 1968

During the pandemic, barring a few days, folks might eat their favorite dishes from restaurants as takeaways have been allowed. But it is not nearly what you eat; it is also about the place you eat. And, it is very true for locations like Airlines Hotel on Lavelle Road. It was doable to order its khara bhath and uddina vada for breakfast. Its proprietor Diwakar Rao says deliveries have considerably elevated over the final 12 months. But the cover and firm of its outdated timber have been missed. The USP of Airlines Hotel is just not its meals; it is its atmosphere.

Airlines is the metropolis’s first drive-in restaurant. Initially, it served predominantly South Indian meals. Then, it added North Indian meals. Now, you additionally get pizzas (from Pizza Stop), ice lotions (from Corner House), and pastries inside its premises. There was a transient thought of overlaying their open-air eating space to make it monsoon-proof. But Diwakar Rao, its proprietor, realised that may have killed the id of the restaurant.

“The open-air dining is what makes us stand out,” he says. It was additionally what lured clients differ of indoor eating after the lockdowns. “Sometimes, they get a little too carefree. And we have to request them to maintain distance and wear masks.”

But it did not take lengthy for the clients to return to Airlines after the lockdown. “Bangalore, and South India in general, cherish tradition and nostalgia. We keep seeing people who say, ‘My grandfather used to bring me here.'”

2021-09-25 18:30:58

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