Even as the reopening of Airlines Hotel is hanging in the balance in view of a dispute , the threat of drive-in restaurants becoming a thing of the past appears very real.
The Airlines Hotel, the first drive-in restaurant in the city that was opened in 1968, was followed by many. The mall, 1 M.G. Road has replaced Kamadhenu Hotel near Trinity Circle; Udayavan, another drive-in restaurant on M.G. Road has given way to Prestige Meridian, a commercial complex; the iconic Shyamprakash Hotel now houses the Embassy group; Avishkar — another drive-in on Infantry Road, presently houses the Embassy square and Sriraj Hotel on Lavelle Road has been demolished.
Suresh Moona, a Bangalore heritage expert, said with rapid commercialisation and the real estate boom, drive-in restaurants, which required a lot of space, are nearly extinct.
Kannada film personality Dwarakeesh recalled how drive-in theatres and drive-in restaurants were once a rage with the city’s elite.
“The film industry was one of its chief patrons. Drive-in restaurants were a luxury and provided privacy in a green ambiance,” he said.
S. Diwakar Rao, the proprietor of Airlines Hotel, went down memory lane, recalling how M.F. Hussain was bowled over by the ambience of the garden and he made it a point to visit the restaurants whenever he was in the city.
Among the restaurant’s famous patrons were matinee idol Rajkumar, H.D. Devegowda and even Haji Mastan.However, Mr. Moona said he was hopeful that the concept could be revived. “With the city turning too congested, the youth love to drive out of the city for an outing. Many hotels have come up on the highways outside the city that provide a similar ambiance,” he said.