Three youngsters open a pay-what-you-want eatery in the heart of Panampilly Nagar
When you enter Cafe Happy Kochi, your meals are already paid for. But, this colourful establishment on 11th Cross Road isn’t a soup kitchen. Co-owners Ashique C M, Deepak M N, and Manuprasad Nair, encourage patrons to partake in the honour system after savouring their fare. The idea is simple: If you loved the dishes served here, like potato cheese shots and paalada-ice cream mix, pay what you think the eating experience was worth before exiting the premises.
“We are a 22-cover quick eats spot. Due to our unique dining philosophy—where customers are technically paying-it-forward for the next patron’s meal—we really cannot serve lavish spreads prepped by a chef. So we turned to our moms, who are expert cooks, to help prepare our signature dishes,” begins Ashique.
Their take on pazhampori and beef—usually considered a dull sweet-savoury pairing—is bound to please the most demanding of tastebuds. Particularly because Ashique’s mother slow-cooks the tenderloin cuts in naadan marinades. Something else we loved is their mango shake, where the primary ingredients, milk and mango pulp, swirl together, amplifying each other’s flavours. Currently, the menu here is minuscule, essentially comprising of ready-to-eat snacks, whipped up by their in-house staff.
“Yet, foodies in Kochi have been chipping in their fair share without hesitation and it’s been an impetus for us to add specials like chilli chicken-pathiri and momos,” clarifies Ashique, elaborating that this 1,500 sq feet space also doubles up as an art-performance space called Vithu and a merchandise outlet for their digital media startup Cinemeals. Cafe Happy Kochi has got a lot going for it—from its unique wall-art, upcycled decor, Malayali pop-culture merch, and a wide array of nostalgia-inducing video games, all of which make this ‘socio-culinary’ experimental space worthy of a visit.
Open from 12.30 pm to 9.30 pm.