Get your hands on some chilled beer at this popular cafe and library
Leaping Windows, Versova's popular cafe and library, is introducing beer on its menu, much to patrons' delight
Last Sunday afternoon, we had stopped by at Leaping Windows — a cafe in Versova that doubles up as a library for comic books and graphic novels — for a cup of tea. There was just one empty table in the al fresco section, the place bustling with both upwardly mobile youngsters and filmy folk who live in the vicinity.
We took a chair, asked for the tea, and in the middle of our cuppa, spotted Utsa Shome, the co-owner, stepping out for a smoke. So, we went up to him to say 'Hi', thinking that our conversation would entail little more than an exchange of pleasantries. And that's why it came as a surprise when Shome told us, "Oh, by the way, we are starting to serve beer in a week."
This is significant news for anyone who frequents the cafe, and that's a sizeable number of Andheri's population. Over the years, the place has cemented a reputation for itself as a welcoming joint where you can curl up with a comic book in the basement, grab a meal with your friends, or cure a hangover with toast and eggs. There have been a few complaints about slow service, though the culture of warmth that the joint has fostered more than makes up for it. But now, with the introduction of alcohol on the menu, the dynamics of the café are bound to change, in the sense that it will get busier at night, attracting part of the area's dinner crowd that would otherwise head off to places with liquor.
Utsa Shome. Pics/Shadab Khan
But more significantly, this would be the first instance, to our knowledge, of a cafe in the city, which has an associated bookstore or library, serving alcohol to patrons. When Wayword and Wise opened in late 2015, its proprietors had initially thought about introducing a wine and cheese section, which this newspaper had first reported. But that plan never came to fruition, though when we contact the Fort bookshop's CEO, Virat Chandok, he reveals that it hasn't been completely shelved yet. "We still want to get it done at some point, though I wouldn't be able to give you a timeframe," he confesses, adding, "I, at least, have never heard of any place for books in Mumbai serving alcohol to customers."
Leaping Windows, by all accounts then, will be the first to the post. But Shome tells us that the plan is to move the library out of the basement into the adjacent building. This is so that the comics aren't strictly in the same premises as the café, meaning the proprietors are on the right side of an archaic law that forbids the serving of alcohol in places that have books within the premises. Either way, locals we speak to react with glee to this development.
Sreemoyee Kasturi Banerjee, a media professional, says, "I normally head there with my friends the morning after a night of drinking, to get rid of my hangover. So, it's great that I will now be able to do that with a pint of beer [which will be priced starting at `200]." And a Facebook post we put up making the announcement gets responses like, "Killer" and "Oh yay!" within a matter of minutes. So everything said and done, a new chapter is slated to start for the popular Versova café come Friday. And we, for one, are looking forward to ordering beer the next time we drop in there, instead of a cup of tea.
Time: 10 am to 12 midnight
At: 3 Corner view, Dr Ashok Chopra Marg, Versova, Andheri West
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