This week, You! looks at the classy and chic interior of a recently opened bakery cafe in Karachi...
Bakery cafes are a relatively new concept in Pakistan. While internationally it has been an old trend, Pakistan especially Karachi caught on to it nearly a decade ago. And amongst the pioneers, the name that tops the list of introducing this concept is Naila Naqvi of the ‘Pie in the Sky (PITS)’ and ‘Chatterbox’ fame. And not just the concept, but her bakeries and cafes’ interiors have always been the talk of the town. Naila has an eye for detailing and together with her architect Asad Omari, she has been doing wonders with her great food and delicacies amidst a rustic and cosy setting.
Naila is a trendsetter having introduced the white bricks in her bakery interiors. “I wanted to experiment with the white bricks and when I saw the result in one of my bakeries, I loved it and so used them in my restaurants,” enthuses Naila.
Having entered professional life at an early age, Naila’s career took off when she joined a hotel chain as a management trainee straight after her A-Levels. And that’s when the grind began. Naila worked in all the departments in the hotel business working her way up. In between, she won a scholarship from the Singapore government and ended up enrolling herself for a three-year hotel management course. This was followed by another course in food and beverage in Singapore from an institute that was affiliated with Switzerland.
A restless soul by nature, Naila has always felt a need to evolve with time. She started serving desserts to hip outlets in those days like the ‘Coconut Grove’ and ‘Cactus’ to name a few. “I got married soon and my husband suggested to do something of my own. He believes women should keep themselves busy and that’s when my passion for desserts took on the shape of ‘Pie in the Sky’,” Naila’s boutique bakery which was a novel idea at that point in time in Pakistan.
Ever since there was no looking back for the dessert connoisseur - Naila went on to expand her bakery business opening up outlets in various parts of the city. It was around this time that she felt she should establish a cafe as well and so ‘Chatterbox’ was born. After running two successful branches of the cafe, Naila recently took the plunge yet once again, and opened up the hip ‘n’ happening ‘Chatterbox Deli’.
Be it the bakery or the cafe, Naila has been known for her rustic and cosy interiors. Warm and welcoming, it’s a place you can call your own - a place that can become your new go-to place. Her outlets have an old world charm that makes them endearing to her regular customers.
“When I was discussing the interior of my new cafe with Asad, he came up with the idea of doing away with the white bricks. We had introduced the bricks and the same idea had been copied by many others. Now, it was time to move away from that. Asad and I have a great understanding; he knows exactly what I want for my interior. And so when I told him I wanted a place where people could come, hang around, get merchandise he came up with the idea of this chic and classy outlet. Since we were moving away from our hallmark bricks, Asad suggested we opt for a blend of gray, black and white.”
The walls of the outlet are gray with a smooth plaster-like finish which is again quite intriguing with the tile inlays and mirrors that instantly add class to the interior. As you enter the shop, you feel refreshed with the sunlight streaming in from all the windows. Sunlight plays a very important role in Naila’s life as she is insistent on adding natural sources of light in all her shops.
The wooden tables and chairs have been set strategically offering enough privacy to all customers yet not placed too far apart. “We have seating capacity for 34-36 people and that’s as much as I wanted. We also blended light and dark wood to go with the monochromatic and gray theme,” shares Naila.
Towards one side, are elegant showcases for desserts and merchandise like sandwiches, breads, cheese, butter, granola, etc. You can even shop for colourful pottery while at the outlet, or simply grab a quick bite and perch atop a stool at the bar towards the end.
While for those desirous of a quiet and cosy corner in the cafe, there’s a niche for about eight to ten people, where you can have your private party. The beautifully designed, successfully running cafe is yet another feather in Naila’s cap.
Shaharyar Hasan Shaikh