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Car Street Bids Farewell to Taj Mahal Cafe

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In a sentimental moment, Car Street New Taj Mahal Cafe, the legendary Restaurant that has been serving addicting Coffee and delectable delicacies, closed office this evening, to facilitate better service in a cozy and comfortable air conditioned ambience in their newly set up restaurant at Kodialbail.


A few regulars relaxing after having coffee

A surprise but informal felicitation ceremony was arranged this evening at the Car Street Café by the regular admirers of the Café, headed by K. Jairaj Pai, President of Karnataka Small Scale Industries Association sponsored by the Car Street friends.


A section of Venkataramana Rathotsava Eve Crowd

Organisers payed their respect to the founder Late Kudpi Srinivas Shenoy, by adorning his photo with garland.


Founder Late Kudpi Srinivas Shenoy

The partners of Taj Mahal Café Pvt. Ltd., Kudpi Jagadish Shenoy, Kudpi Ganesh Shenoy and Kudpi Badrinath Shenoy were honored by Mr. Pai and his team with garlands, fruits and framed pictures of Lord Venkataramana, as a gesture of respect and gratitude for the long standing service to the people of Mangalore by the Café since 1951. A banner displayed outside the premises displayed the sentiments and gratitude of the people around Car Street, who have been successful in achieving their goal in life with the stimulation of Taj Mahal “Kaapi”.


AC Room

In his response, Kudpi Jagadish Shenoy thanked all the people who supported Taj Mahal group of restaurants and seeked their blessings and continuing support at their new premises at Kodialbail. He explained, that same standard of food shall be served at the new premises with better ambience and service.


Ah! Taj Mahal "Kaapi"!

New Taj Mahal Café was founded at Car Street by Late Kudpi Srinivas Shenoy in the year 1951 and has been legendary in its own style, serving inimitable addictive coffee, if not ghee dosas, biscuit rotis, teek rotis and other delicacies. The first restaurant was opened at Maidan Road in 1926. In 1932, a set-up was located in Car Street by the name New Taj Mahal Café, which started the innovative self-service system in 1963.


Biscuit Ambade and Biscuit Rotti

Kudpi Srinivas Shenoy never looked back, and he set his feet forward to open a chain of restaurants and lodges from 1940 to 1967. Eventually, a group of restaurants and Lodges came into existence in and around Mangalore, projecting Mangalorean Hotel Industry at the National level, thanks to the vision of Late Kudpi Srinivas Shenoy.


Coffee Mixers and Daily Customers

In 1940, one more outlet was opened near SP's Office called Taj Mahal Hindu Restaurant that was later renamed as New Taj Mahal Cafe, Komal Vilas in Car Street near Flower Market, Jaya Café in Hampankatta was taken over in 1951 and was renamed as Taj Mahal Restaurant, Central Lodge and Coffee House near Central Talkies, Kirthi Mahal Lodging and Restaurant on Falnir Road and finally Moti Mahal Luxury Hotel in 1967.


Fresh Saat and Hot Succulent Dali Thove

The most popular item served by Taj Mahal is the inimitable “Kaapi”, which used to be served as “Single”, “Special”, “Light Special” and “Adha Double”! I remember my late father telling us about Komal Vilas days, and the flavour of Thuppa Dosa, Avalakki Usli and Teek Rotti with Sheera or Halwa those days in the forties that used to come for less than One Mukkaal!


Halwa Maker and Mouth Watering Kadle Upkari

The famous Wheat and Banana Halwa, Mithai Laadu, Saat, Mysore Pak, Jilebi and Thukdi are popular with households of Mangalore and undivided South Kanara District. These used to be freshly prepared daily at Car Street Taj Mahal. Sugar Coated Cashew nuts with plain Cardamom and Saffron flavours, are rare to find in Karnataka State.


Kudpi Jagadish Shenoy felicitated

Snack items like Theek Rotti and Sukkha Bhaji, Biscuit Rotti, Ambade Sambhar / Thove, Special Upma, Buns, Curd Avalakki (Kaalle Phovu), Undi, Moong Daal Usli, Chapathi Song and Kadle Bajil have distinct flavour within, much sought after by people having aggressive taste buds!

Venugopal Kamath, an industrialist along with Gurudath Kamath who has his condiments and tender cashew business by the side of Taj Mahal, when asked about how they feel about Taj Mahal, just lift their thumbs up and indulge in hovering over their plates!


Last Look before closing down

Vaman Kamath says, before starts his morning rituals, he has to visit Taj Mahal!

Chandrakanth Shenoy, a retired Bank employee has been relishing Taj Mahal coffee since he was four years old. He says, his father used to take him early morning for “Paschim Jaagran”, a chanting season during which, the final landing would be at Taj Mahal!


Relishing Biscuit Rotti and This is my cup of tea, says a regular Muslim patron

"We have never disappointed our customers in spite of recurrent labour problems" confesses Kudpi Jagadish Shenoy. He looks heavy hearted, as business closed down at dusk in the Car Street premises that saw its last batch of regulars who swarmed the place to witness the grand finale to a show that ended well! Ganesh Shenoy looked equally breathless and emotional, as Taj Mahal has been his ancestral property, which he has been looking after like his own child!

"We shall never let down Taj Mahal. We travel a long way every day at Sun rise to taste the coffee and feel contented!" a group of regular visitors said. Kumble Srinivas Nayak confesses that Taj Mahal has been inseparable part of his life since many years, and of late, his morning starts with a cup of regular coffee at Taj Mahal, followed by a group chat with like minded friends. Vag Suresh Shenoy, a resident of Flower Market lane has apprehensions that he can't live without Taj Mahal. He is ready to walk upto Kodialbail to have his daily dose, he says with a broad grin! Keshav Baliga is all smiles, but his broad smile says it all! Jayanth Nayak just smiles and acts as if it's just another day! "Don't worry, we'll find another katte outside Panch Mahal for our daily gossip", he says!


Thuppa Dose

G. G. Mohandas Prabhu, a Whole Sale Tea merchant in Bunder comes all the way from Kadri to have his breakfast at Taj Mahal. H. Vasanth Pai and Mohan Prabhu are simply addicted to Taj Mahal snacks and coffee!

Abdul Khader Saheb has a Transport business in Bunder and he visits Taj Mahal daily for his cup of morning tea along with his friends.

Dharmasthala Mahaveer, having his sanitary ware business on Bibi Alabi Road is addicted to Taj Mahal. He says, Special Song served with chapathi, poori or even Thuppa Dose is too good! He says, normally Jain preparations are sweet, but he has developed taste for Konkanis' style of cooking since he was a child. Taj Mahal fulfils his need whenever he feels like eating tongue tickling delicacies.


Typical Rathothsava Day Scene

Retired Head Master of Canara High School, Venkatesh Kamath and his son were looking very sad on Sunday when they thought, it was the last day for Car Street Taj Mahal where they have been frequenting regularly!

Building Contractor Ram Mohan Suvarna authenticates Taj Mahal Rotti and Chaa as the best in the world! Sujir Raghavendra Nayak in his mid Seventies still frequents Taj Mahal for Teek Rotti and Sambhar, though his health conditions are not very favourable. He says, he feels a sense of well being, eating at Taj Mahal!

Ronald Pinto, a Nationalised Bank Employee is fond of Idli Thove in Taj Mahal. Yet another Bank Employee Thukaram Kamath comes all the way from Ashok Nagar to sip his cup of morning coffee. Shyam Sundar Kamath and his cousins Dr. Ganesh Shenoy Panchmal and Sathish Kamath are regularly seen at Taj Mahal on Kodial Theru day!

Renowned Chartered Accountants M. R. Kamath and S. Srinivas Kamath are regulars here and they say, little bit of walk should digest all that extra fat Taj Mahal cooks put into their addictive delicacies!

Renowned Ayurvedic Medicine Manufacturers M/s M. Ganapayya and Sons and their sister concerns, just around Taj Mahal Café have been regular customers of Taj Mahal since the first branch opened in Car Street. Dr. M. D. Kamath remembers the days when his father Panduranga Kamath used to take him to Taj Mahal in the Forties when he was a student! Rajaram Kamath and Dr. Shantharam Kamath have all praises for Taj Mahal coffee.

Priests of Car Street Temples are extremely happy to say that New Taj Mahal Restaurant never uses onions or garlic in the morning dishes for the benefit of the priests. Vedamoorthi Jodumutt Venkatesha Bhat is a regular here, and he says, it will be difficult for me, but I still believe in having my daily snacks and coffee at Taj Mahal. Distance doesn't matter, he says as he projects a broad smile!

The new facility at Kodialbail shall be set open to public on 12th March in the Swagath Group 'Panch Mahal' premises with seating facility for 80 people in A/C ambience and ample parking space, according to official sources.

Things would never be the same for Car Street folks. Yet, the memory of their long cherished companion New Taj Mahal Café is sure to carry them from Car Street to Kodialbail!

Kudpi Rajanikanth Shenoy
e-mail: kudpiraj@gmail.com

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