The year was 1920 when three brothers Parameshwara Maiya, Ganappayya Maiya and Yagnanarayana Maiya left a small, sleepy hamlet near Udupi in South Kanara (a region in the state of Karnataka, India) in search of greener pastures and found their way to Bengaluru. Being proficient in cooking, they found employment as cooks in the homes of some prominent people of those times.
In 1924, Parameshwara Maiya, with encouragement and assistance from his employer, decided to start a small restaurant on Lalbagh Fort Road in Bengaluru, along with Ganappayya Maiya, called the Brahmin Coffee Club serving coffee and idlis. Five years later, on the death of Parameshwara Maiya, Yagnanarayana Maiya joined his brother in running the restaurant. For the next three decades. Yagnanarayana Maiya, or Yagnappa as he was called affectionately, with his enterprising ways, managed the restaurant effortlessly and brought the restaurant accolades and fame.
In 1951, he decided to undertake a tour of Europe to study how restaurants in those parts functioned. He returned an enlightened man, impressed with the standards of cleanliness, hygiene, discipline and practices adhered to by the restaurants there. On his return he brought in quite a few changes in the restaurant. He raised the bar by introducing new standards for hygiene, health and sanitation. He introduced sterilization of utensils, crockery and cutlery. He distributed small booklets on health and proper eating habits. He also opened up the kitchen to the scrutiny of customers. He also renamed the restaurant ‘Mavalli Tiffin Rooms’, in short for MTR, after the locality where it was situated.
In 1960, the restaurant shifted to its present location on Lalbagh Road, Bengaluru and grew in stature and name. MTR became a landmark. In 1968, Yagnanarayana Maiya passed away, handing over the mantle to his nephew Harishchandra Maiya and the legacy continues with the third generation in the saddle.
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