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     Volume 9 Issue 34| August 20, 2010 |


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Anika Hossain

The walls are papered with images of popular magazines and newspaper clippings. The Newsroom café looks spacious and cozy with its inviting yellow lights.

The name itself seemed to merit a visit. Newsroom Café is easy to find, being located right next to Brac University, opposite East West University. We got there at about 9 pm and the streets were deserted. As we walked in, we could see that true to its name, the walls of the restuarant were papered with images of popular newspapers and news magazines from all over the world. The place was almost empty, with a few customers, mostly a younger crowd, scattered here and there, some working on their laptops while others chatted idly, waiting for their meal to be served.

Bright and colourful decor to liven the atmosphere.

The café occupies one floor and manages to look spacious and cozy at the same time, with its bright decor and inviting yellow lights. The menu consists mostly of a variety of Indian food, from snacks such as kebab rolls, keema puri and papri chats to meals of chicken curry and beef achar gosh, all reasonably priced, but surprisingly different from the regular food we would expect to find in a café.

“We cater mostly to university students, and the place is packed during the day,” says Md Yusef Ali, one of the owners. He explains that the students from the surrounding universities start arriving in the mornings for breakfast and there is a steady flow of about a hundred customers everyday until after lunch. Employees from the nearby corporate offices are also regular customers during lunchtime. “Tehari and khichuri are our most popular dishes,” says his partner M Sahjad Ali “most of the students order these dishes because they are affordable and delicious.”

A tour of their kitchen revealed the clean and hygienic habits of all the café employees. The large tandoor was hot and ready to cook the next batch of kebabs. We were introduced to the chef and his assistants who are all from Barisal, and have been trained in preparing Indian cuisine by a chef from Bombay. A separate chef has been assigned to prepare the different hot and cold beverages such as coffee and milkshakes as per his expertise.

“The food is always served fresh. There is nothing pre-cooked or refrigerated and that's what makes our dishes delicious,” says Yusef Ali, as they serve us naan, khichuri, chicken tikka, chicken tandoori and chicken shashlik. “We are struggling to create a new concept for the younger crowd. We are trying to bring in new and upcoming musicians to entertain them.” Yusef Ali and his partner have plans to revamp the place and add a stage to their decor for small concerts. They are also trying to come up with new and unique recipes for their menu in hope that they will attract more customers at night and drum up their business.

Entrance to the café.

As we polished off all the mouth-watering food, the partners told us more about their plans to have home deliveries for iftar and their ongoing negotiations for a lunch deal with Brac and a Grameen Phone office located in the area.

“People come to us not just to eat but to study, get work done using the free Internet service, to celebrate birthdays and special occasions and to just relax, because we make them feel at home. The best thing about us is that our prices are affordable and we are located in a convenient place for university students,” says MD Yusef Ali.

We thoroughly enjoyed the food and company at the Newsroom Café and came away with full stomachs, planning to go back during the day sometime, when the place is more crowded and lively. We looking forward to seeing the newly renovated café and all fun and entertainment it promises.

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