During my last visit to Mysore a few days ago, I quickly researched for restaurants in Mysore and found the following to be interesting and checked them out over the weekend:
1) Vinayaka Mylari Hotel - #1 on the Tripadvisor list. Known to serve the best dosas in town.
2) Om Shanti at Hotel Siddartha - Supposedly serves some great meals.
3) Indra's Cafe Paras - A snack joint serving dosas, chaats etc.
4) Guru Sweets - Known for their Mysore Paks
Out of the list, Om Shanti and Indra's Cafe Paras were disappointing. No real specialty, history - just normal joints serving all kinds of food - probably hve become popular simply due to being around for a while and serving consistent food at OK prices.
I found Vinayaka Mylari (Sign board says - Hotel Original Mylari) to be very interesting. They serve one product - a dosa for 20 bucks. The Dosa comes with a veg stuffing (not the normal Potato Masala), but a gooey veg curry, served with a small block of butter and fresh coconut chutney. The dosa in terms of texture is close to the set dosas you get in a lot of places, but the taste is pretty good - soft and fluffy, and very light (very little ghee/oil) . Think of it as the Vidyarthi Bhavan Dosa without the ghee. The place is really small with a few bences and tables and does not appear very clean at first sight (because of the old building and worned out interiors). The interesting part is that the hnd wash area is in the kitchen - so you actually get to see the kitchen. With some minor interior changes, some nice old style painting, uniformed waiters and disposable paper placemats with their story will make this place rock. With the visibility the place is getting on the internet (tripadvisor, lonely planet etc.), the owners can churn this into a huely popular, must visit place in Mysore - especially given the dearth of eating options around.
Guru Sweets is even more interesting - this is a small corner shop at a very busy junction with two window counters for you to order your sweets. Their special Mysore Pak (300 bukcs for a kg) is the hot seller. The shop is loaded with all kinds of sweets, but in the 20 minutes that I watched, 80% of the orders were for their Mysore Pak and 10% for their Son Papdi. They make their Mysore Pak in limited quantitites everyday using ghee made using fresh butter delivered from a village nearby. They are a great business and with probably a small leaflet outlining their story dropped into every box of sweets they pack should do.
If the opportunity presents itself, I would love to buy out places like Hotel Original Mylari, Guru Sweets and similar such businesses in several cities (especially the touristy ones) - make some minor changes to make the customer experience better without taking away the legacy, tom-tom the story, and reap the benefits of their legacy.
Or maybe there is a case of building something like the "Small Hotels of the World" marketing model for such places.
Photos above from:
1) Guru Sweets - http://www.masthmysore.com/specials-mysore-pak-a-sweet-story
2) Hotel Original Mylari - http://thinditheerta.blogspot.in/2012/01/hotel-original-mylari-mysore-restaurant.html