Timeless tables: for old and new Bangalore, Koshy’s is an emotion

Timeless paintings is a CNT miniseries that features lessons from some of the country’s most iconic restaurants for having survived the test of time

A bakery that evolved into a coffee shop that became South India’s first air-conditioned restaurant, Bengaluru’s Koshy’s is more than a corner restaurant or iconic landmark; it is an emotion, a living organism, which breathes, which vibrates with life. Rooted in St Mark’s Road for nearly seven decades, recording every change in the city, he has seen countless stories unfold within its walls and the sweet parade of life with his unwavering gaze.

Koshy’s history dates back to the 1940s, when WWII prompted unemployed bank executive, P Oommen Koshy, to open a small bakery in the Cantonment area of ​​former Bangalore, rather than return to Kerala. . He made traditional English bread for the garrisons – which he nicknamed “army bread” – which cost an anna. From home deliveries of bread and cookies to bikes, the bakery has evolved into a department store on MG Road.

With the help of his friends, Koshy rented land behind the cathedral on the corner of St Marks Road and moved his bakery. In 1952-53 he opened the ‘Parade Café’ next door, unaware that it would become the most iconic and beloved restaurant in Bangalore.

Koshy’s has remained virtually unchanged since 1952. Elders might notice the subtle shift from rattan chairs and gingham-covered tables dressed in monogrammed silver sugar bowls and tea pots, to wood, formica and moss furniture. Still, the overall unpretentious and comfortable ambience of the waiting room at this colonial relic retains its charm.

While people love the noisier, no-air-conditioning section with its squeaky old fans and walls adorned with black-and-white photos of Bangalore’s wonderful old-world landmarks, the Jewel Box Café is the slightly more expensive and private air-conditioned annex. The revolutionary addition in 1962 was the first AC restaurant in South India with a live band and dance floor. An old jukebox sang songs for four annas!

Personalized and friendly customer service is the top priority, as brothers Santosh and Prem do not see themselves as “owners or bosses” but as simple keepers and custodians of a heritage passed down from their grandfather. They took over the reins after the death of their father and uncle. Santosh, the introvert, prefers to stay behind the scenes, running operations sitting behind the billing counter.

Prem, the most amiable and talkative, comes to each table to watch the diners and regale them with stories and anecdotes. The quintessential restaurateur, Prem is the face of Koshy’s and diligently cares for every guest. “I was only eight years old when my grandfather gave me the job of keeping the place clean in addition to selling cakes and chocolates at the bakery during Christmas.”

Lesson 1: Stay Consistent

Elders and privileged friends receive a plate of potato smileys, puffy daddy’s triangles, or the famous “bread butter” – oblong, chewy sliced ​​buns from Koshy covered in soft butter, on the house. The menu is an exhaustive mix of 968 items covering typical Kerala dishes that celebrate family roots, colonial favorites, Anglo-Indian and Continental dishes, and global cuisine from family travels. The food is classic, no fuss or frills – signature roast chicken, club sandwich, fish n ‘chips, Spanish omelet, mutton chop, all day English breakfast and Kerala specialties like egg appam, pork Kerala or beef fries, fish biryani, fried shrimp or Sunday special of appams lace and stew.

The consistency and authenticity of the recipes keep people coming back time and time again for familiar flavors they grew up with. Coffee lovers swear by their strong black coffee, a secret blend of Coorg, Chikmagalur and Kerala heritage, brewed in the same old bell metal coffee filter for over 46 years. Their snacks are also a huge hit, especially the crispy, puffy chicken cabbage, available at the nearby Koshy’s Bakery, alongside breads, gingerbread cookies, pastries, pies and chops.

Regulars know exactly what they want on and off the menu and are known to be territorial. May God save the poor at the corner table near the window or the wooden pillar… because he ignores the stabbed looks of a regular who wanders to discover a stranger in “his” or “his” favorite place. Bible tarot card reader Protima Bedi and Dolores Pereira were notoriously possessive, fiercely crowding out any intruders.

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