Cafes in Visakhapatnam are buzzing with art workshops, talks and live performances

Art sessions, inspiring talks, open mics and music...these cafes in Visakhapatnam are bringing back all that you missed about live performances

Updated - December 15, 2022 05:08 pm IST

Published - December 15, 2022 03:13 pm IST

Participants at the sip and paint session in a cafe in Visakhapatnam.

Participants at the sip and paint session in a cafe in Visakhapatnam. | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Cafes and eateries of Visakhapatnam are turning out to be a lot more than a place to grab an espresso or cappuccino. From spaces to bond and connect, entertainment centres to art hubs and a platform to learn a new skill, coffee shops double up as these, and lots more. 

Every alternate Friday evening at Cafe Kurtosh at Yendada, a motley group of people gather to listen to some unusual stories of grit, determination, a traveller’s saga of Himlayan adventures or about a beautiful artistic journey. The sessions called Been There, Done That - typically an hour or two long - are a lot about sharing and reflection. The concept was started four months ago by Diwakar Vadapalli, founder of Cafe Kurtosh. “When I returned to Visakhapatnam after my stint in the US, I felt the city needed a space where people could gather, communicate, connect over their life journeys and most importantly, reflect on their experiences and make meaning of all of the learning and experiences we’ve had. Been There, Done That is endeavour towards creating that space where people can pause and reflect. A cafe is a great place to host it with the ambience and food making it a casual affair,” says Diwakar. Seven sessions of the series are over and this weekend Cafe Kurtosh will host the eighth session where a wildlife conservationist will share his journey of giving up a toxic career path to follow his passion and landing up in the middle of a mangrove and transforming a community that used to poach the endangered fishing cat. While travel stories have been an integral part of the series, Diwakar says he eventually plans to branch out to include people from various other sectors to make the evening meaningful.

Like Cafe Kurtosh, many other city cafes are seeking to offer experiences for the customers where they can be a part of a community of like-minded individuals, showcase their skills or learn something new. In its eight years of existence Bean Board has become synonymous with a culture that helps to strengthen bonds over a cup of coffee. From a single outlet in 2014, today it is a fast mushrooming chain with three operational outlets in Visakhapatnam, three more opening soon and a newly opened one in the US Consulate in Hyderabad. While in the past, gigs, open mics and performances by local bands were a regular feature, the pandemic had paused the live events at the cafe. Bean Board managed to revive it over the past couple of months by organising workshops in association with artists and crafters for children and adults to enliven its spaces. The next year, however, is set to herald in bigger changes and bring about a transformation in the way people spend an evening in the cafe. “By January first week we are opening our biggest outlet at Panorama Hills which will be a 5,000 sq. ft. area space. Here we will start the monthly sessions of Coffee Stories which will see real life heroes from the armed forces, civil services and other sectors come for an interactive session,” says Isaac Jeremiah of Bean Board. “There is a lot of gap between mentors and aspirants. Our idea is to bridge the gap, channelise the energy of the youth, give a platform for people to come together, listen to these inspiring stories in an informal setup of a cafe and also enjoy the specials from the menu,” he adds. “We will also have a YouTube channel where we will be posting these sessions,” says Isaac. 

Participants at the sip and paint session in a cafe in Visakhapatnam.

Participants at the sip and paint session in a cafe in Visakhapatnam. | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

After a gap of over two years, Gluttons Garage at Pandurangapuram is back with hosting open mics and standup comedy sessions. The sessions - a result of days of deliberation and planning - were a houseful. Last month it hosted paint and sip sessions, a concept new to the city, where the participants sipped on their favourite drink while painting a picture. The sessions lasted for a couple of hours and were quite a hit. “Our idea is to have some workshop or activity every second and fourth weekend. We have not reached pre-pandemic levels at business yet. But these sessions are helping us to get first time visitors. We plan it during the afternoons when the cafes are mostly not crowded. So it is a win-win situation for us as well as those involved in conducting the workshops. We now have an event by an upcoming DJ and also plan to host pop-ups on sustainable clothing and thrift stores,” says Robert Rejoice of Gluttons Garage. The cafe is also working on a new menu featuring a fusion of the popular dishes from different corners of India. 

Participants learning about the coffee taster's flavour wheel at Wabi Sabi Art Cafe in Visakhapatnam.

Participants learning about the coffee taster's flavour wheel at Wabi Sabi Art Cafe in Visakhapatnam. | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Wabi Sabi Art Cafe at Vishalakshi Nagar recently hosted a coffee cupping session inviting customers to try out different beans procured from various coffee cultivating pockets of India. The session saw an enthusiastic participation of over 25 people in which participants learnt about the different types of beans, ways of cultivating them, the different geographies they are grown in. “Based on the feedback of the participants, we decided on our next order for coffee beans. We wanted our customers to feel connected with the cafe and the session was a good start towards it,” says Mohith G, one of the co-founders of Wabi Sabi Art Cafe. In the three months of its existence, the cafe has hosted five sessions which involved talks by wildlife photographers, science workshops and art sessions. “We wanted a community space that encourages art of all forms. But simply having an art corner was not a sustainable idea. So we decided to start a cafe which would provide a platform to local artists as well as startups who want a space to connect with people,” says Mohith. The cafe also has a Book Room which promotes the idea of book exchange and is presently in talks with a book club to host book reading sessions. 

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