The Story behind Bengaluru’s favourite restaurant: MTR


It’s a warm Monday afternoon. Food lovers visit the restaurant non-stop. Right at the entrance, the cashier hands out tokens and bills at an almost machine-like pace. The waiters, decked up in pink and blue shirts, expertly juggling several cups of coffee and plates of steamy hot triangular dosas along with sambhar in a bowl of steel. There’s so much that goes on at each moment that it’s almost surprising no one bumps into each other.

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That’s the beauty of Mavalli Tiffin Rooms (MTR), Bengaluru. Since inception to date, the famous eatery has managed to evolve as not just a brand but also an iconic landmark that is constantly changing for the better. The Lalbagh-based restaurant has entrenched itself so well in the city’s culture that having a meal or two there has become much like a ritual to the localites. Yet, not known to many, but MTR is encircled in rich history, with origins from a small village in Bengaluru, called Mavalli, and the grit of the Maiya family.

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The journey that began in 1924 in the form of “Brahmin Coffee Club” near Lalbagh Fort Road transformed into a restaurant in 1936 after a rice shortage hit the country with World War II. One of the co-founders of MTR, Yajnanarayana Maiya, then took the plunge and decided to make the best use of the available resources – which meant, replacing the rice for idlis and dosas with semolina. This experimental version not only proved successful, original, and innovative but also gave birth to a new dish in the menu, named “Rava Idli.”

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Thereon changed the fate of the Mavalli Tiffin Room. Having paid a visit to Europe in 1950, Yajnanarayana got the chance to experience and observe western restaurants and their hospitality. Impressed by the level of hygiene, he set on to implement a similar standard of cleanliness in his own restaurant. Fast-forward to 1960, when the restaurant moved a few minutes away from its original location and rebranded itself as Mavalli Tiffin Rooms. In just a few years, after the demise of Yajnanarayana, the functioning of the restaurant was taken over by his nephew, Harischandra Maiya.

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What changed the true face and phase of MTR was post-1970s when the restaurant hit a rough patch and publicly declared losses. This, in turn, paved the way for Yajnanarayana’s son, Sadananda Maiya, to join the business to carry forth the legacy established decades ago. Here’s when the brand leapt into the segment of ready-to-make mixes for dosas and idlis, whilst still running the restaurant. Two decades later, the packaged food business was split from its restaurant, which enabled Sadananda and Harischandra to respectively focus on their areas of work, thereby improving the range of products as well as the quality of food offered at the restaurant.

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Today, the eatery that came to life from a small village of Mavalli has evolved as one of the most sought-after and reputed brands in not just India, but world-over. It’s safe to say that the credit for Bengaluru’s status for being a “food hub” partially goes to its oldest food joint, MTR!

Learn More: MTR Website


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