A new café in town hopes youngsters will hang out there and let their dreams take flight. Parshathy J. Nath meets the guys who started it

“Socialise the actual way,” reads the caption on a poster, hanging on the wall of Kites Café, on Avanashi Road, Peelamedu. And, that is exactly what one can do in this outlet. It is a favourite hang-out for the young in the city. It is not just a space for coffee, but much more.

Since the café was set up a few months ago, it has hosted rock shows, poetry readings and charity programmes.

City bands such as Avyaktha, Incomplete, 7th Frett and Abandoned Elements have performed here. Four schoolmates from Mani Higher Secondary School — S. Sundar, T. Vivek, K.P. Aswin Karthik, and Navien Kumar — who came up with the idea say they want to get the youth out of Facebook and into the cafe. Says Sundar, “We want this to be meeting point for people to do all that they do on Facebook. They must remember this place for the conversations, good music and smiles.”

A vintage Ilaiyaraaja tune hums in the background. Customers while away their time, checking mails or chatting with their friends. A few hover around the feedback board, reading the hundreds of sticky notes praising the ambience, music and ice creams.

“We do not want this space to be like other multi-chain coffee shops,” says Vivek. “There, everything is produced in an assembly line method. Here, we have tried to create a personalised feel, even in our menu.”

The dishes keep changing every day, depending on the chef. “The “experiment of the day”, today, is deep fried mango served with mayonnaise on a mango peel. Initially, people were a little taken aback by the combination. But they liked it when they tasted it,” assures Vivek.

Their target clients are students and corporate employees, says Navien. “We carried out a research on the demography of this area and found out there are many ladies’ hostels here. We have also introduced daily discount offers to attract students.” And IT workers are happy with our burgers and ice creams, adds Vivek.

The employees here do not wear uniforms. They are all college friends of the managing team. They have come on board to help their pals out. “The backbone of our café is our friendship,” says Navien Kumar. “Our main aim is to keep eight years of our friendship intact through this venture.” The four had planned to launch their first start-up firm, a travel company called Viyal Holidays, when they were studying in the eleventh. “We were determined that we would do something on our own and not be stuck with a white-collar job,” says Aswin, who is the travel bug in the group.

After school, Sundar, who was determined to become a film maker, joined Amrita School of Communication. Aswin, even though his passion lay in travelling, took up engineering in KPR Institute of Engineering and Technology. However, Navien, whose heart belonged to spare parts of automobiles, was happy doing engineering at Dr. Mahalingam College of Engineering and Technology. And Vivek, who indulged in culinary experiments in his free time, went to do hotel management in PSG CAS.

While they pursued their respective studies, they met every evening in their regular tea shop in Gandhipuram. “I would rush out of class after the final bell, to meet these three. My college friends were amused seeing my excitement,” says Vivek.

It was during one of their tea sessions that Sundar broached the idea of setting up Kites. The rest gave the thumbs-up. But, getting the funds was not a cake walk. “We approached a lot of Government banks. They agreed to loan us the money. But then they would make up excuses why not to give it to us.” Finally, it was a bunch of like-minded friends who volunteered to help them out. “The government should lend a supporting hand to students, who take a risk in these start up ventures,” feels Aswin.

“Initially, we considered it a space for us to ideate on our plans about our travel firm. But, with the response that we are getting now, we want to develop it in a big way,” says Sundar. Last weekend, they hosted a poetry reading session that saw around 45 people participating in the event. “Many thanked us for the cosy ambience and soothing lighting, which was just perfect for reading poetry.”

The rock show, featuring city bands, also had a good turn out, recalls Sundar. “Around 240 music lovers came. They clapped and sang along with the band.”

Sundar, who has worked as an assistant film director in Moodar Koodam harbours big dreams for Kites. “I want to turn Kites into a platform for independent film makers to screen their films.” About his film making plans, Sundar says those can wait. “I will make my film once the café becomes big. Each of us has ambitions and goals. Vivek wants to be a consulting chef for big restaurants. Navien dreams every night about the car he is going to invent. And Aswin wants to develop Viyal. We hope we can evolve ourselves by supporting each other. And Kites, hopefully will become the launching pad for that.”