“Welcome to the home you never knew you had,” says a writing on a wall of Cafe Kalimpong, the newest addition to a growing number of hipster hangout spots in the tiny tourist town of Kalimpong.
Earlier known for its temperate climate, Buddhist temples and traditional handicrafts, Kalimpong is undergoing a silent cafe revolution. A revolution that has set afoot thanks to local entrepreneurs like Praveen Chettri, Navin Chettri and Yawan Rai, young and ambitious owners of Cafe Kalimpong.
Tell us a bit about Cafe Kalimpong and its founders. When was it launched?
Cafe Kalimpong was launched by the three of us – Praveen Chettri, Navin Chettri and Yawan Rai (me) – on 19th March 2017. “Café Kalimpong” was an obvious choice to name the cafe as our main motive is to promote Kalimpong. Our core idea behind launching this cafe was not just to serve good food but also to create a space to promote Kalimpong by telling stories about our rich history, unique culture and sharing life stories about our beautiful people.
What inspired you to launch a cafe?
As founders, each of us comes from a different background. The only person who is anywhere close to the hospitality industry is Navin who is very passionate about cooking. Praveen and I (Yawan) are photographers and we are making our living out of it.
“The one thing that sparked this idea of starting a café was an honest vision to promote our land.”
We wanted to build a space that proudly promotes Kalimpong’s rich history, culture, and tradition through different mediums.
We also wanted to offer an interactive space to artists, students, travelers to showcase themselves or just to anyone who wants to go out, relax and just enjoy.
What is so special about ‘Cafe Kalimpong’?
We have a mixture of closed and open spaces as part of the cafe space. But Cafe Kalimpong is mainly popular because it offers an amazing view of Kalimpong main town.
On a clear day, one can sit back and watch the beautiful mountains as far as Nathula pass, Sikkim (India and China border) kiss the clouds, and enjoy some local teas. The seating layout of the café is very minimalistic that helps us to offer maximum open space. We are an ideal cafe to host events and parties.
How did you figure out the right location for your cafe?
Choosing the right location for a cafe is a crucial decision to make and it does take a lot of time and research. Our current location is not too far from the main town, on the way to Durpin monastery on East Main Road next to Paramount School. All three landmarks spelled an opportunity to us. It takes about 10 minutes to walk from main town to the cafe.
What sets Cafe Kalimpong’s menu apart from the rest?
Apart from the regular food items that the cafe offers, something that’s very different on our menu are the local cuisine items. We’ve named this special part of the menu as “Flavours of Kalimpong” with four local food items.
Staying true to our theme, we also wanted to promote the world-renowned tea leaves from Darjeeling. Currently, we are serving the first flush from different tea gardens at Darjeeling and Sikkim including a special kind of hand processed tea leaf variety. It is sourced from homes of plantation workers and has a very distinct taste compared to regular tea.
What do you hope people take away from a visit to Cafe Kalimpong?
It will always be our top priority to offer our customers an overall good experience with tasty food and quick service, but what we really want our customers to take away with them is a heightened understanding of Kalimpong, especially of our local people. It’s sad that we take our place for granted when we have so much of rich history, culture and tradition.
Have you been hosting any events at Cafe Kalimpong?
We are lucky to have had an opportunity to host events in collaboration with people from different walks of life right from the early days of launching our cafe. The most recent one was Insta Meet, where Ms. Tara Bedi, the only Indian working for Instagram, was here to host it along with Mr. Sumit Dayal, a renowned photographer. We are very thankful to them for giving us and Café Kalimpong an opportunity to be a part of such a great event.
We also hosted “Art Haat”, which is a one-day event where different local artists showcase their products for sale. We also hosted some local music bands and other artists as part of the event.
We will soon begin to host cultural events at the cafe that will help our supporters understand explore Kalimpong. It will also help us showcase Kalimpong through different mediums.
Are you visiting Kalimpong anytime soon? Are you a Kalimpong local or are looking for a space to host an event in the city? Follow Cafe Kalimpong on Facebook and Instagram to find out about their daily specials and announcements.
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