Local hangout Kafeïn reopens its doors

Kafeïn café on Bishop is finally back in action. Photo by Tiffany Blaise.

Kafeïn café on Bishop is finally back in action. Photo by Tiffany Blaise.

Kafeïn, a bar and café that has long been a hangout for Concordia University students, has recently reopened its doors with a new look and shisha-free atmosphere.

Last summer, the owners of Kafeïn were in the middle of another busy season on Bishop Street when disaster hit.

The café went from being a lazy summer hangout equipped with a front terrace, fresh cocktails and a live DJ to a water-damaged mess. During a major August rainstorm, a blocked drain in the building’s roof caused both floors of the café to flood with water. The bar, furniture, floors and equipment were left completely rotted and Kafeïn was forced to close its doors for the rest of the summer.

“I would say we had a pool worth of brown water come down” said owner Gaby Najjar. “Almost everything had to be thoroughly cleaned, repaired or replaced.”

The owners, Gaby and his brother George, planned to get back on their feet as soon as possible after the flood. The former decided to remodel the café, installing a brand new bar downstairs, new seating arrangements and painting the walls for a whole new look .

“I was taking on the whole project myself – finding workers, designing, doing the finances,” said Gaby. “So I won’t be fully satisfied until I can see the vision that drove me for this project, but I’m hopeful and excited about what’s to come.”

Located right next to Concordia’s library building downtown, Kafeïn has been a haven for students studying or hanging out on break.

“The couches are comfy, you can just sink into them. It’s one of my go-to places to hang out at night,” said political science student Jessica Palis, “and I love the teas – especially the blueberry.”

With its unpretentious and admittedly ‘worn-in’ décor, many students and loyal customers have grown attached since Kafeïn opened eight years ago. Within this social circle, Kafeïn found support, and friends helped with advice and decorating in order to get the café ready to re-open.

After several months of revamping, the café opened its doors again with a new look and its menu also had a makeover. They serve a large variety of paninis and salads that are between $5 and $7. They offer a meat-free chili and egg breakfast sandwiches from 9 a.m. until noon. While the café used to be known as one of the spots in town to smoke shisha (flavored tobacco smoked from a water pipe), the owners have decided to stop serving it.

“It was our choice and I felt it was better for the business to re-invent ourselves,” said Gaby, “But the government was also being harsh on us with the requirements and conditions [of serving shisha].”

Kafeïn will still act as an art gallery with exhibits and vernissages displaying local artists. This month’s featured artists are Concordia painting and drawing student Adrienne Dagg, whose oil paintings can be seen downstairs, and painting and drawing graduate Alzbeta Jaresova whose work is featured upstairs. The artwork is generally displayed for a month and each piece has a price tag so it can be sold to clients looking to buy. Kafeïn invites artists to drop by to show off their work and possibly have their art hosted by the café.

Adrienne Dagg’s work can be seen on her Flickr at www.flickr.com/photos/adriennedagg
Alzbeta Jaresova’s work is online on her website at www.jaresova.com
Kafeïn Café is located at 1429A Bishop St.
Monday thru Thursday from 9 a.m. to 1 a.m.
Fridays from 9 a.m. to 3 a.m.
Saturdays and Sundays from 12 p.m. until 3 a.m.


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