Dining With Pirates

Cafe Pirates is north Kashmir’ first themed restaurant modelled on a Hollywood movie reports Aqib Nazir

The Cafe Pirates was by its three founders in 2018. KL Images:Aqib Nazir

It’s the vibes that make the diners leave or stay at any restaurant. The first themed-café inspired by the Holywood movie Pirates of the Caribbean in Baramulla town gives you those vibes.

The Cafe Pirates restaurant could be an option for dining out with family or friends, especially if you are from the town. The restaurant takes you for an exciting journey with its American-European foods, making it irresistible to try and unique from other cafés. This concept was self-built by its three founders, Faisal H Bhat, Irfan Bukhari, and Aabid Sheikh.

“We serve mostly continental dishes unlike Kashmiri Wazwan, Chinese, or Indian,” Bhat said while speaking about the unique concept of the restaurant. “You won’t find many cafés and restaurants with continental cuisine as it’s very challenging to find a chef for European-American Cuisine here in Kashmir”.

“We were making films and have been part of several projects together. It occurred to us that there should be something secondary back in hometown so that we stay connected with Kashmir. Something which should synchronize with our sense of film making and art and be in coherence with it. We thought of many ideas to start a business with and at the same time keeping it subordinate. Something like our secondary source of income and as an arm to our artwork,” Bhat said. “Our main focus is always filmmaking and video production. After brainstorming on different ideas, we finally got into this buccaneer theme. We were inspired by the “Pirates of the Caribbean” movie, we kind of stole our idea; I guess that’s what pirates do. We incorporated pirates theme, in general, in the café.”

The café opened in 2018 when Kashmir was witnessing continuous lockdowns. In the first one or two months, the response was overwhelming from the public, because it was the first theme-based café in North Kashmir. People flocked to see a different idea. Then gradually it slowed down a bit because of continuous lockdowns.

The café has a dedicated event space and it is built like a ship front deck to go with the theme. They have done events on storytelling, dialogues, musicals, poetry, workshops with many national and local celebrities and brands.

The café is away from the main market. It was for a target audience and not for someone passing on the road. It’s like people make up their mind at home that they will visit café Pirates.

The reason for making a cafe away from the main market was its building which is the only complex in Baramulla town with proper ventilation, lift and also has underground parking facilities for vehicles.

“The moment you enter this place it gives you cool vibes..it’s interior is just awesome and its name just fits to its interior…now coming on food…they serve the tastiest food in town which seems fresh as well simply worth spending,” said Mehvish Sherwani, who is a frequent visitor to the restaurant.

The first themed-café inspired by the Holywood movie Pirates of the Caribbean in Baramulla town. KL Images: Aqib Nazir

To follow a fashion the owners have also generated employment for nine ‘pirates’ as well.

The curse of the “black pearl” is still living in the air. A whole wall is dedicated to the scene when black pearl encounters the mighty Kranken. It was illustrated by Badrunnisa Bhat, a Kashmir based artist.

In the indoor sequence of Pirates of the Caribbean, there are candles and torches positioned on the pillars creating warmly lit corridors and halls. They have recreated the same settings with inflammable lamps. It gives you a complete experience of Pirates of the Caribbean ship.

“It is the best place to eat delicious food and experience Captain Jack Sparrow. I visit every weekend here with my friends,” said Saqlain Peerzada, a resident of Baramulla town.

Customers get a free wifi internet connection at this Cafe. KL Images: Aqib Nazir

In August 2018,  a Mumbai based event organiser kommune organised an event in cafe Pirates to give a platform to those who aspire to become writers, storytellers or poets. Many artists participated in that event. Mohammad Muneem aka Aliff and photo-journalist Showkat Nanda participated in that event. From outside Kashmir, a famous singer Ankur Tiwari and poet Mohammad Sadriwala also participated.

Since climate change is a growing concern, as responsible entrepreneurs, they use biodegradable materials and avoid the use of plastic from packaging to serving.  They make sure that they have zero food wastage as they make everything fresh every day.

To attract younger generations they also provide free high-speed wifi to their customers.

“It is a different experience altogether. One gets to browse high-speed internet and at the same time munch on snacks and sip some coffee. The combination is just great,” said Nasir Altaf, a student from Baramulla.

The co-founder of the cafe believes that Kashmiri youth should not just be dependent on Government jobs as there are very few in Kashmir.

“The problem lies in our mindset. It’s inculcated during our upbringing, could be from our family or society. And there’s something bonding to our beloved land. We Kashmir’s want to live our whole life in Kashmir; there’s nothing wrong with this mindset. But the thing is there are other avenues which people can explore. My advice to the young aspirants is “learn and master skills” and have a non-conventional approach towards employment. If you master a skill, opportunities will knock at your door. And since broadband fibre is a norm now in Kashmir, people should really look for online jobs on portals like Upwork, Fiverr etc if they want to stay in Kashmir and work.”


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