By Aswasan "AJ" Joshi
The restaurant scene in Kathmandu is vibrant, offering a wide range of dining options and an eclectic mix of ambiances. The industry, which typically catered to foreigners a decade ago, is now witnessing a huge influx of locals who are eating out more frequently. This can partly be attributed to the increasing spending capacity of Nepalis. There was a time when only Durbarmarg, Thamel and New Road used to be the restaurants hubs; now the scene in Jhamiskhel is booming with high footfall. There are myriad delightful eateries and bistros in every nooks and corners of the neighborhood. With that being said, given the cut-throat competition and high failure rate, restaurant business is still brutal. To add to the woes, it is one of the worst hit industries by the pandemic—forcing thousands of restaurants, both small and large alike, to shut overnight. One establishment tucked down the Jhamsikhel road that was able to weather the storm and pull through is Evoke Café and Bistro.
Evoke Café, a brand initially started at Pokhara, is a fabulous amalgam of sumptuous multi-cuisine food and charming setting. True to its name, the café evokes a sense of a welcoming work-friendly community that induces collaboration and social cohesion. On any given day, one can see a flock of young professionals come together and explore their shared creative and intellectual interests in the lovely courtyard. It is also a perfect getaway from the hustle and bustle of daily life to enjoy some time with family and friends. More than just a cozy coffee shop, the café offers all-day breakfast, lunch, dinner and a full bar. There is something for everyone on the menu—from Chilly Garlic Prawn and Filet Steak to Bruschetta and Tofu Salad. Evoke also offers a wide selection of imported craft beers and specialty teas to complement their food. On top of that, having ample space for parking in the heart of the cluttered neighborhood is a huge attraction for customers. Food from Evoke can also be ordered from Foodmandu and Foodbusters.
Unlike most enterprises, Evoke shares its grounds with other independent creative outfits that align with the ethos of the cafe. It has an art studio, The House of Palettes, where one can paint their day away while sipping on some good Chardonnay from Evoke. The café also houses The Local Project that offers the best selection of locally-made products—products ranging from jewelry, clothes to home accessories. One can also get tattoos and piercings at the Inkprovised Tattoo studio inside the Evoke premises. With the lockdown measures eased, Evoke also brings up-and-coming artists to play every weekend drawing a sizable crowd. What’s more, Evoke also has space for conferences and meetings. It has held numerous successful events so far—anything from small private events to large corporate gatherings.
In late-October last year, Evoke Café applied to One to Watch (OTW) COVID-19 MSME Fund Nepal. Through the Fund, they were able to secure a loan from Laxmi Bank. The Fund will pay the interest for 12 months. Evoke will use this loan as working capital. In addition to getting bridge financing, Evoke has also been receiving technical assistance from OTW through tailored business development services. OTW, through its F&B consultants, is helping Evoke with inventory management and expand its sales and marketing effort. OTW is expecting to deliver these customized business development services to at least 4 out of 10 loan-approved enterprises through the Fund.