For the first time in 28 years, Pecos will no longer serve beer.

Bengalurus iconic pub Pecos to shut its bars and serve coffee thanks to Supreme Court
news Friday, June 30, 2017 - 18:03

July 1 has suddenly turned into a dreaded D-day for Bengaluru’s party-hearty, pub-hopping denizens, as over 741 bars, pubs and liquor stores in the city will stop selling alcohol. Following the Supreme Court’s ruling banning the sale of alcohol within a 500-metre distance of National Highways, some of the city’s iconic watering holes will run dry.

For many Bengalureans who’ve grown up in the city, one of the great tragedies of this imminent shutdown is that Pecos – the iconic pub tucked away on Rest House Road, off Brigade Road – will not serve beer for the first time in its history.

Brigade Road and MG Road are also still considered Nationals Highways, and are among the five major road stretches radiating out of Bengaluru that will be affected by the SC order.

At a certain point in the 1990s and the 2000s, having your first drink at Pecos was practically a rite of passage. For many Bengalureans, this iconic bar has played host to many memorable moments of life. To see Pecos that started 28 years ago no longer offer its heady trademark combination of beer and retro rock on July 1 gives the SC order a dimension of personal tragedy.

Pecos outlets in Church street, Rest House Road, Indira Nagar and Brigade Road will stop the bar from July 1.

Pecos and Bengaluru

Pecos’s no-alcohol run in July will mark something of a return to roots for the pub that has contributed much to Bengaluru’s title of pub city. 

As Collin Timms, the owner of Pecos says, “I was 26 years old and like most things in my life, the decision to start Pecos too was accidental. Plans have never worked out for me. But when I started the outlet, it was not a bar but a restaurant serving Mexican food. In 1989, convincing the people of Bengaluru to eat Mexican food was a difficult job. I used to spend all my days and nights at the restaurant, trying to save it from crashing.”

The restaurant eventually turned into a pub, thanks to a customer, who suggested that Timms serve beer. Timms took the suggestion on board as a solution to a sinking ship. Pecos’s memorable combination of beer and rocking music, though, came about as another accident.

“As I spent all my days and nights at the pub, I decided to bring my collection of music cassettes and listen to it on my beat-up tape recorder. I love listening to 1960’s and 1970’s music – old southern blues, rock and jazz blues. Soon, people began coming in because they loved listening to the music, and beer was an added benefit. They kept coming back and I know some of my long-time customers who have brought their grandsons to have their first drink at Pecos,” says Timms.

Back before Facebook mentions and online reviews, Pecos grew in popularity thanks to very positive word-of-mouth.

“The Pecos at Rest House is known for its audio cassette collection. Over the years, many customers donated their cassettes and the Pecos music collection grew. I have seen people form ideas for successful businesses, meet their future husbands and wives, and even some who would go on to become musicians in their own right, as the music in the bar inspired them,” Timms said.

The popularity of the bar grew and in 2005, Collin Timms formed a company - Pecos Hotels & Pubs Pvt. Ltd and established more pubs in Bengaluru in the subsequent years. Today there are three more outlets in Indira Nagar, Brigade Road, Church Street.

Among all of the pub’s memorable moments, Timms, remembers one instance that proved just how important the Pecos brand of music was to its regulars.

“Bob Geldof of the band, The Boomtown Rats was visiting Bengaluru. MTV, which had just begun to gain popularity in the city, had got him to Pecos. As a tribute, we played a couple of Geldof’s songs. This is not the usual music played at Pecos. One of our regulars, came down from the first floor, and began yelling, with some colourful language, and told us to start playing the good music again,” says Timms. 

“He had no idea who Bob Geldof was, and the singer was sitting right in front of him. It was embarrassing at the time, but it never fails to crack me up even now. It is something I will always remember,” laughs Timms.

Even as Pecos regulars mourn the loss, even if temporary, of their favourite watering hole, Timms says that the pub will work its way through the situation. For as long as it can’t serve beer, Pecos will be rechristening itself the Pecos Highway Coffee Pub.

“We will serve coffee in beer mugs until the highways are denotified. Until then, our customers can indulge in some caffeine. I am sure it is a matter of time until the denotification happens, as there is too much at stake. Until then, it will just be a coffee break,” Timms said.