Bangalore’s Coffee House shuts after 50 charming years

By Maitreyee Boruah, IANS,

Bangalore : For scores of people, be they regulars or occasional visitors to Bangalore’s most popular avenue, M.G. Road, Monday was a listless day. They missed the freshly brewed filter coffee, not-so-crisp masala dosa and tasty scrambled eggs at Indian Coffee House.

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The restaurant has downed shutters, leaving behind a 50-year-old legacy of playing host to personalities like former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, painter M.F. Husain, Jnanpith awardees U.R. Anantha Murthy and Girish Karnad as well as commoners.

For all of them, it was a charming place to chat with some coffee thrown in. Officegoers as well as workers and owners at commercial establishments would throng it every day.

“Life will never be the same. Indian Coffee House is not just another restaurant. It represented Bangalore’s culture for 50 years. Friends and family came here to enjoy its coffee, food and friendly ambience,” septuagenarian T.K. Kumar, who has been a regular at the place for the last three decades, told IANS.

“Only last month, I came here with my former colleagues and friends and spent a few hours chatting and enjoying the food. The old age charm and simplicity of the place cannot be replaced by any other restaurant. I am going to miss coming to Coffee House,” added Kumar.

He came to the place Monday morning for a look at the closed shutters. He could not make it there the previous evening for his last cup of coffee.

Run by the Indian Coffee Workers’ Cooperative Society Limited, the Coffee House was established in Jan 1958. The end came as the society lost a legal battle with the owner of the building to continue in the premises.

“The court had directed the Coffee House to vacate the premises in 2006. However, we managed to get an extension till March. Now we have no other option but to move out and find an alternative place for ourselves,” Ravi, the manager of Indian Coffee House, told IANS.

“We are looking for a place on MG Road to restart our business. Till then the employees, 48 in all, have to remain without any salary,” added Ravi.

Almost all its staff members have worked in the Coffee House for more than 20 years.

“I worked in the Coffee House for the last 25 years. It is hard to believe that it has been closed. I have enjoyed serving the visitors all these years,” said Peter John, a waiter in his mid-40s, sporting his red turban and white uniform.

“I hope we will get an alternative place and be back at our work,” he added.

Hanumiah, the coffee maker who has delighted many discerning coffee lovers, said the place had been his home for almost three decades.

“I prepared filter coffee for coffee lovers for almost 30 years. Coffee House was my home and I am homeless today,” lamented 50-year-old Hanumiah.

More than the star visitors to the eatery, it’s the regular coffee lovers who have many a tale to tell about the restaurant.

“My parents met in the coffee house and decided to marry over special cups of coffee and scrambled eggs. The place is very special for me. I too came here often. Unlike today’s swanky cafes, the Coffee House has a special attraction. I am going to miss it,” smiled Sanket Hedge, a college-goer, trying hard not to show his disappointment.

“Save Indian Coffee House”, a Facebook group, consisting of around 570 members, also made attempts to retain their favourite hangout. But their efforts came to naught.

The Coffee House was selling the brew at Rs.8 per cup in plain porcelain cups and saucers. On an average, its turnover was between Rs.25,000 and Rs.30,000 a day.

On Monday, all that remained at the premises was the almost worn out black and white signboard, “India Coffee House”.