Why do people waste time if it is money for them? Or rather why shouldn’t they pay for it while get other things for free at least your favourite drink, which is a love for most of us. Mauji Cafe, the first of its kind café in Pune that charges for the time spent not food, started by Vandita Purohit Kedia, who brings the Russia-born concept called anti-café to the city. “We did a little survey and went around asking people going to cafes, the purpose of their visit and surprisingly more than 70% people said that they were visiting a friend, or wanted to work from somewhere else. Their main purpose was not coffee/tea,” shared Kedia who thought of giving an interesting solution to this problem. At Mauji, one can sit for whatever time they want without feeling the pressure to place an order.
Bumping into the Anti-Café
Moreover, at Mauji your coffee is on the house, unlimited. The restaurant has a food menu too, but one doesn’t have to necessarily order food. They can bring their own food or even call for food from their favorite restaurant and have it at Mauji (that’s the BYO concept). “I have ensured that the place is aesthetically pleasing and our customers love spending time here, whether it is with friends or for work, or even just spend some time alone. The idea is to pay for the time and not the beverage,” pointed Kedia by adding that they also have a store, a studio space, a workspace, events space, and maker space to. “It allows us to serve a wider audience's needs and demands,” she added by pointing that they India’s biggest pay-by-the-hour cafe and also the first BYO space.
Designed for growth
There are a lot of reasons people are using bungalow as a location. “For me, the most appealing is the character a bungalow space helps to build. It has a vibe of its own, which I don’t find in commercial spaces. Other reasons are that, I get a lot more usable space like the parking, terrace, balconies, etc. to utilize while designing the space. It gives us a lot of freedom and liberty in terms of timings, usage of space because you are the sole business operating from there,” she commented by adding that these kind of properties resonate more with cafes, and hence designing such a space is more time and cost-efficient, a lot of basic work is already in place like the flooring, ceiling, kitchen, etc. They have also used a lot of old furniture and items, refurbished and renovated them and ensured that they meet their budgets.
“Time Cafe is a Russian concept and has been around for some time now. I did visit one in Paris a few years back, so when I decided to open a café, I wanted it to be something unique in terms of the concept and design. After a few iterations, I decided to go full scale and ended up developing a space that has so much to offer,” shared Kedia by adding that there have been time cafes in the past but most of them were food-centric. So, they were focused on serving various delicacies and gourmet food, we, on the other hand, are very space-centric. We are currently operating out of a 5,500 sq. ft. bungalow space, designed for experience. We are more of a cafe and not really a restaurant carrying a big menu.
The response (minus the lockdown times) has been good. We should achieve our operational breakeven by December 2021. What I am very happy about is every time someone visits us for the first time, they go gaga over the space. We have a lot of repeat customers and great Google Reviews with a 4.9 rating.
Who are you targeting as your customer?
We have a very wide TG. We get college students coming to hang out with friends or even to study. We have freelancers coming to work, a lot of people from nearby who come to enjoy their coffee and sandwich, people even come and read books or watch a movie here. And then of course, we have the WFH audience that loves to drop by every now and then. We get about 40-60 people per day, and the average ticket size is about INR 300 –INR 500.
We want this to be a creative hub, where people can meet, work on ideas and collaborate over great coffee and food while being in a creative environment. We also organize and provide a platform for flea and pop-ups, art workshops, musical gigs, and other such fun creative interactions.
How have you designed the menu?
Our menu is sort of limited. While designing the menu, we were mindful about two things - minimum wastage and give better variety to regular customers even with a smaller menu. Hence, the daily-changing menu. We serve only certain categories of food and some of them are not available on all days. For instance, we only have 1-2 pasta options every day and it keeps changing daily.
What’s your expansion plan?