Lake Town’s Cotts and Coco could very well be the face of the post-pandemic indie business model
If you found Fleabag’s one-woman cafe unrealistic, Lake Town’s adorable, distancing-friendly Cotts and Coco cafe would come across as a revelation. The charming, artsy joint is run entirely by Suvra Saha, who doesn’t plan on hiring additional staff anytime soon. “It's funny, I think the fact that I’m the only one who cooks and serves and handles the food around here, is actually something my customers find convenient and it’s a bit of a relief for them. In bigger cafes or diners, one can’t really see who’s handling their food, and post the pandemic, that's definitely led to some anxiety in the food circuit,” she tells us.
We were naturally curious to learn how exactly Saha handles busy days in the 12-seater joint, considering it’s located at the heart of South Dum Dum. Does she plan to come up with something along the lines of Fleabag’s 'chatty Wednesdays' to keep the customers busy? “Actually I’m a lot better at pacing myself now, I simply prioritise my orders depending upon the time the customers can allow me. If someone has ordered more than two or three things they usually have some time on their hands, if someone needs one thing in a jiffy, I usually help them out first. It works out fine,” Saha shares.
In North Kolkata something this self-sustaining and quirky is definitely a thing of attraction and Saha took the attention in her stride. “I often get walk-ins who think this is a furniture store, since I have a few interesting seating picks near my entrance, but it’s definitely something they notice. As a concept, it did take some time for people to warm up to the space, but I enjoy quite a few repeat customers and people are finally appreciating it,” Saha remarks.
Since the cafe was birthed from Saha’s love for cooking, the menu features some interesting signatures which you won’t find in the city. Mango Tangy Chicken Fingers, for instance which Saha prepares with mango juice or her Baked Cheesy Fish Fry which is an upgrade on the quintessential Bengali snack because of course, it’s baked with cheese. Other picks are comfortable, binge-worthy options from fries and chicken nuggets to more filling numbers like butter garlic sausages with sauteed veggies, an array of pastas and maggi.
“A lot of people come in here to work in peace, we have some regulars who come in every day,” we are told. There’s a lot of diversity in its theme, for instance, the tables are small, neatly set up blackboards, appropriately named Tic-Tac-Tea tables. You’ll find plenty of board games and books strewn about if you want some down-time with friends, away from the screens, and the wood-paneled walls are scattered with photographs from the mountains. Hot tip: Cotts and Coco opens its doors at 4:30 pm, so skip lunch and plan an interesting snacking session or a heavy supper with mocktails.