Darjeeling Cafe and Bistro (DCB) is one of the most well-known cafes in Silchar. It is the preferred dining location for a large portion of the youth of Silchar. One thing about DCB, that not everyone might know, is that they started taking Coronavirus seriously much before any of us had any idea regarding the havoc it would cause, and started following social distancing norms. We contacted the management of DCB, and conducted a small interview. Here are some excerpts from our conversation with the management of DCB :
1) DCB took COVID-19 very seriously and enforced social distancing measures even before it became a very serious issue in our area. What triggered you to do so?
- I remember it was last week of 2019. I was going through my google feed when i came across an article about a peculiar disease similar to pneumonia being reported from Wuhan in China. Back then it had no name and they were calling it an ‘unknown viral infection’ with pneumonia-type symptoms. It struck me because i had just finished reading an article on bio weapons and genetics. So i automatically took interest in the matter. After 4th January when the WHO made the first media announcement regarding the disease, still without a name. It was from then that i followed the reports on a regular basis and having seen it increase everyday i could make out it would reach India someday but i never thought Coronavirus would have such profound effect on our lives here at silchar. I discussed the increase in cases almost everyday with my staff members but it wasn’t serious for anybody back then. Many people used to laugh at me saying corona was going to come to get me, which was a funny experience. This experience has taught me a lot about making projections and having a greater sense of awareness about my surrounding.
2) DCB has always been known for its high standards of kitchen cleanliness. In the wake of this COVID-19 crisis, have you increased your cleanliness standards even more, or do you feel that the present standards are more than enough to deal with the situation?
• Kitchen standards remain as usual with the exceptions of a few new norms to adhere to because of the current situation. My kitchen staff are not allowed to leave the premises of DCB. Its been more than a month they haven’t been out. There is a designated person who goes out for bringing in the essentials and personal stuff of our employees. The person who goes out is again not allowed to enter the kitchen during the working hours. There is a separate dress code for going out and the clothes are to remain at a particular place everytime the person comes in from outside. The usual routine of santising hands is sincerely followed by our staff. They are very serious regarding the safety issues as it also affects them which makes our job easy. We have just 3 staff members operating at DCB right now.
3) Why did you choose ‘Darjeeling’ for the name of your cafe?
- My grandfather was the first businessman in our family history. He started the business of tea trading and named it Darjeeling Stores. I was very young during his demise. Hoping to revive some goodwill and good sentiments associated with the long standing name, we decided to keep the name Darjeeling Cafe and Bistro (DCB).
4) Who are the owners of DCB? And how did the plan of opening a cafe and bistro come to your mind?
- My parents jointly own the place. Me and my brother help run the business. The desire to open a food joint has been a long standing one. The basic urge was to provide good quality food, both authentic and our own customised recipes. Feeding people is a responsible job and keeps us at our toes. Being involved in the everyday working of DCB is a rewarding experience. Personally, I can do this all my life.
5) We have seen that many live shows have taken place at DCB. So is promotion of art and culture another objective of DCB?
- We are huge admirers of art in any form. Art is the end result of the creative minds excellence. We wanted to set a mood for the kind of experiences we wanted our people to have. However a lot remains to be done and hopefully next year we will get back to promoting art. We had planned to bring in some rappers from different states of northeast for live shows this year but the pandemic has jolted our plans. But we will see what else we can do once normal operations resume. Something very local is on our minds now.
6) Amid the COVID-19 crisis, we have seen that many consumers have stopped trusting restaurants and cafes due to the fear of contracting the virus. Has this affected your sales in any way?
- Yes of course it has and it was understandable. There are some things that are beyond our control and the best we can do is prioritise things in our lives in situations like these. But now having understood that we will have to live with corona, we are making short term plans handling each day at a time. The uncertainty will eventually go away for sure.
7) Are there any plans for expanding DCB in the near future, or opening any new outlet of DCB in the future?
- Yes that remains a desire. But at the moment our top priority is the smooth and efficient functioning of DCB. One year is too soon to establish something meaningful and valuable.