As I took the elevator up to attend the opening of Gourmet Bazar's Banani store, I wondered at the oddity of having a super market on the third floor of a building. But as the doors opened, I was greeted by this amazing little place, which, I dare say was packed to capacity for the opening, and any apprehensions I had were completely dispelled.
Well-known faces from across Dhaka were seen enjoying unplugged music as Palki played live music on a makeshift stage. As I scanned the surrounding area, I noticed that the other half of the place was Gourmet Bazar, as I had been expecting to see.
'Gourmet Bazar - kitchen, cafe, grocery', is the name given to its latest outlet that opened on Banani 11. As the name suggests, this one is not just a regular supermarket, it is much more. Comprising of a book corner, a cafe and an ambience that is cosy, warm and welcoming, it does not have the feel of a supermarket at all.
Needless to say, the store has an attractive range of products required for daily use. Products that are not easily available in the country are imported, like bulgur wheat quinoa, gluten free all-purpose flour, bread flour, etc. The entire store has a huge presence of organic food items, including organic chocolate and in-house items, like organic rice, brown atta, etc.
As for dairy products, they offer varied types of imported gourmet cheese in addition to the regular items, much to the delight of food connoisseurs.
From cereals to pastas and skin care products to frozen food, you will find a plethora of products to fulfil your requirements.
To make it an ideal hangout spot, Gourmet Bazar plans to organise events regularly. Ahmed Shoyeb Iqbal, general manager of Brand, Communication, and Business Development at Gournet Bazar, says, “Most cafes have a live band playing in the name of entertainment. But we want to make this a happening and engaging place for our customers. With that aim in mind, we will be organising two events every week. So far, we plan to have open mike sessions with stand-up comedians and music events every Wednesday evening for adults. Every Saturday morning, we plan to organise events for children, like workshops on drawing and inspirational speeches by people who have excelled in their field.”
“We wanted to have a trio-combination for this place. We know there are no book stores in Banani, so we decided to open a bookstore-cum-cafe where people can just come and chill. Since the only space we were able to find on Banani 11 was on the third floor, we were aware that opening a full-fledged supermarket might not be the best idea. So, we decided to make the store the third wheel of this place as opposed to focusing on it,” Iqbal added.
Their book collection boasts of some of the latest releases and bestsellers. They currently house only a limited number of titles for both adults and children. But in the next few days, they will multiply the numbers to a minimum of 800 titles. You can either skim through a book while at the café or you could buy one -- the choice is yours.
The café offers a variety of gourmet snacks and beverages. From Philly Cheese Steak Sandwiches and Pan Seared Sea Bass to Beef Bhuna, they cater to a variety of taste buds.
“We have selected our menu carefully. Even though we primarily offer snacks, we have incorporated certain meals to give people the option to either grab a quick bite on a busy day or have a relaxed meal,” said Iqbal. “We have tried to price our food to a minimum, probably the lowest you will find on Banani 11; we want to encourage people to come here and hangout or even hold meetings.”
They are also in the process of developing their bakery items to include cakes and artisan bread.
The new outlet of Gourmet Bazar could be a game changer in the superstore shopping experience as it promises a seamless blend of entertainment and grocery shopping. With their organic food range, Gourmet Bazar has correctly tapped into people's desire to eat healthier.
So, if you want to read a book, grab a bite, shop for essentials or just hang out, visit Gourmet Bazar at House 49, Block-H, Banani-11, Dhaka.