Imagine going for dinner to a simple yet rustic cafe in Bengaluru after a regular day, where the meal is a community dinner consisting of strangers. These strangers are from different walks of life, sharing stories of their travels as they enjoy a sumptuous spread across a long table. If the idea appeals to you, head over to Hungry Travellers Café, which fosters a love of travel and great cuisine among the fun loving and adventurous Bangaloreans.
The entrepreneur-couple Anushree Kini and Pavandeep Singh launched the café motivated by two things: Pavandeep’s love for food and Anushree’s passion for travelling. A plate full of stories and a creative space, ‘Hungry Travellers Cafe’ aims at spreading the love for food and travel, and fostering a community of people passionate about both.
Community dinners with strangers
“We had always dreamt of hosting community dinners in our house - calling over people and bonding over food and stories. Somehow it just never happened,” says Anushree. But eventually it did happen as the duo launched their café and saw their dreams become a reality.
Six months later, they collaborated with another entrepreneur Shraddha Rungta from Cheese Cake Alley, and invited people on their social media pages for a Community Dinner. “About 15 people turned up for the elaborate dinner and it was very well-received,” Anushree says.
The couple also took part but made sure they remained in the sidelines, allowing the strangers to warm up to each other. “We split people up so that they could bond with other people,” she
It is the experience the duo wanted to bring about through this unique style of dining.
Journeying with travel stories
The couple’s love for travel is infectious and they intend to spread it in every possible way. Today, Anushree and Pavan throw their cafe open to travellers to come and share stories. They also organise a monthly programme ‘Travel Talks’ in association with the group ‘Plan the Unplanned’.
During Travel Talks, travellers from different walks of life share stories that are rich in experience and excitement. “We had a girl who had visited the Antarctic, a diver talking about his passion for underwater photography, and many other interesting stories,” says Anushree.
The cafe has only 26 seats but the crowd that gathers for the talks is usually over 40-60 people. This is the kind of enthusiasm that drives Anushree and Pavandeep to run this ‘passion project’ alongside their own respective professions.
Last year, the couple challenged themselves to undertake 12 trips in 12 months. What made this travel plan more adventurous and unique was their two-year-old toddler on board. “After Kabir was born, we thought, why give up on travel? Let us take him along. He’s going to learn a lot more this way, and it’s a great family activity,” says Anushree.
In the months that followed, they travelled to different parts of Asia, Africa and Europe. They savoured Singapore’s chicken rice, feasted over Bangers and Mash in Manhattan, and indulged in Smoked Pork Ribs at Ubud. And they believe that through these 12 trips, they moved out of their comfort zones, learnt to disconnect and reconnect, and tasted flavours they had never imagined they would.
To top it all, they couldn’t help but wonder at the enthusiasm of their two-year-old son.
What’s their travel style? Anushree and Pavandeep refuse to call themselves either luxury-oriented travellers or backpackers but try to find a balance between the two, inclining towards travel as an experience of the local culture and cuisine of a region. “When we plan our trips, I look for all the places to visit, and Pavan looks for places to eat,” Anushree says.
The couple also helps travel enthusiasts with itineraries and travel hacks. They also run a blog where they pen their travel experiences and post videos giving a glimpse into their journeys.
Movie screenings and stand-up comedies are among the other activities that take place at the Hungry Travellers Cafe. “The cafe is our attempt to find a physical extension of our love for food and travel and our desire to build community of travellers who want to see this big, beautiful world of ours,” says Anushree.