Embrace the old world charm

Embrace the old world charm

Embrace the old world charm

Situated on Lavelle Road, ‘Airlines Hotel’ has remained a legendary landmark for 47 years now. Started in 1968 by SN Rao, it holds the record of being the first drive-in restaurant in the City.

‘Airlines’, as it is fondly known as, is a sought-after ‘adda’ for quick breakfasts, and has witnessed the discussions of many businessmen and college students.

“My father, SN Rao, started a drive-in restaurant called ‘Hotel Sujatha’ in Mysore in 1965. This was the first drive-in restaurant in Karnataka. After its success, he wanted to get the concept to Bengaluru and he saw this place, which was already named ‘Airlines’, and was owned by Mr Thomas. He took Mr Thomas to ‘Hotel Sujatha’ and introduced him to the concept of a drive-in restaurant and it all began there,” says Diwakar Rao, the owner of ‘Airlines Hotel’.

The tradition of hanging out in ‘Airlines Hotel’ has been passed down from generations and it has remained the most adored ‘adda’ of people of all age groups. There was a time when one could get a glimpse of all the ‘fancy’ cars in the City parked inside the premises of this restaurant which is noted for the taste of its unmatched ‘sambar’, the crispy and crunchy ‘dosa’, the soft and fluffy ‘idlis’, which are served with the traditional ‘sambar’ and ‘chutney’, tastes that one pines for. 

Since its inception, and there has been no change in taste of their iconic ‘sambar’. “We have a constant check on quality and our dishes are cooked in a traditional Mangalurean style. We also have a cook who has been working here for the past 35 years now. He trains the new cooks and that is how we have maintained the same taste,” adds Diwakar. 

The restaurant is definitely noted for its South Indian dishes. But it does not fail to delight those who love North Indian cuisine. Having an age-old menu with blue words printed on a white sheet, this drive-in offers ‘chola bhatura’ and ‘paneer rolls’, dishes that dominate their North Indian menu. 

They also offer Chinese manchurians and for evening snacks, one can hog on a delectable variety of ‘chaats’. And each of these dishes have an assigned timings and the hotel doesn’t fail to maintain its aesthetics. The beverages, especially coffee, served in a long glass tumbler, has never disappointed its customers.

A legend in itself, this restaurant is noted to be visited by other legends like MF Hussain, Dr Rajkumar, BM Oberoi, Kumar Bangarappa and many more. 

The regulars here include actors Shiva Rajkumar and Puneeth Rajkumar. The place has now become a hub for many clubs, including the owners of ‘Harley-Davidson’, ‘Vespa’, ‘Fiat110’ and many more. “There are 30 to 40 members of these clubs who come here on Sundays. They address their meetings over breakfast and then carry forward their plans,” he says. 

From being a premium hotel with banquet hall, this place has managed to stay as the popular drive-in restaurant. 

It has undergone ups and downs due to the licence issue and there has also been a time where it shut down for four months. Social media sites were then flooded with messages in support of the restaurant. 

“Those four months were a nightmare. But the support from all the Bengalureans has helped us overcome the issue and I am thankful to everyone who supported us,” wraps up Diwakar Rao. 

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