Disappearing into history

Cherished Space

Disappearing into history
First it was the Lakeview Milk Bar ice-cream cart at Trinity Circle, then it was the original Indian Coffee House on MG Road and now, it’s Airlines Hotel, one of Bangalore’s most prominent landmarks, being forced to shut down. 

Bangalore’s first drive-in restaurant has been closed since March 22 after the High Court issued a stay order while hearing a case filed by hotelier Diwakar Rao, son of Airlines founder SNS Rao, against the BBMP’s decision to cancel the hotel’s licence.

According to a source, Kalarickal Thomas, who owned the property after buying it from Wakf Trust, leased it out to SNS Rao. 
 
Diwakar started running the place after his father’s death in 1995. 

After Kalarickal’s death in 2011, the trade 
licence passed on to his son Kurien, who wrote to the BBMP asking them to cancel the trade licence in 2012. 
 
As Diwakar could not transfer the licence to his name without Kurien’s consent, he appealed to the court and received a stay order from the High Court. 

Recently, the court gave it a notice to suspend operations until further notice. 

The source adds that with close to 150 employees working there, everybody is waiting for the court verdict to take the next step. 

Diwakar, who is busy attending the court hearings, says that nothing is certain as of now. 
 
“We don’t know whether we have to permanently discontinue service or will be granted the licence in the future to resume business. We will have to wait and see what the judges decide,” he says.

Bangaloreans, both old and young, are understandably upset by the news and say that they will fight for Airlines and not let it close down. In fact, there is already an online campaign doing the rounds which is aimed at getting patrons to sign a petition to keep it open.

Vishal, a patron for the past 20 years, says, “It’s sad to see a part of Bangalore’s history being closed down. As someone who has been going there since a kid, when there was a toy train inside the premises, there’s a lot of nostalgia attached to it. It’s been an after-college hangout, a place to catch up with old friends and just the place where I could go to enjoy the shade of its grand old trees.” 

Rohan Pereira, who regularly went there for breakfast, adds, “The news broke my heart. Airlines Hotel was the kind of place where one could always see all kinds of people. And it was a beautiful space to have in the heart of the City with its trees and open air. Personally, it was almost an everyday affair with the coffee there even though it wasn’t always consistent. If the cook wasn’t in a great mood, you could tell that by the first sip. Also, the waiters I dealt with were outstanding — they were friendly and constantly smiling.”

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