Khayaban-e-Sehar witnessed the birth of yet another restaurant on Saturday night, as Club Genova opened its doors to a selective guest list, complete with red carpet and fanfare. While a live band played the acoustic guitar with occasional dashes of the trumpet, guests sauntered inside the restaurant to be seated. Each level of the triple-storey building is dedicated to a unique theme, which owner Rizwan Niazi described as contemporary-cool, classic and affluent cigar den respectively.
The idea behind the eatery comes from cosy three-in-one cafes tucked away neatly in the city of Genova. Restaurateur Niazi visited the Italian city and thought of initiating a “one of its kind” hangout in the metropolis. He pitched the idea to his friend Fawad Naeem, who thought that a theme-based crash pad is just the thing that would tickle the fancy of Karachiites who want to eat and lounge about.
“Zamzama is usually clogged up because of traffic and people often complain about not being able to find parking there,” said Naeem and Niazi, explaining their choice of location. “For the enthusiasts of cafe culture, Sehar is the new Zamzama.” When asked about neighbouring competitors (Cafe Downtown and Latte Lounge) Niazi added, “We are not worried about the competition because we are offering three services under one roof.”
The top level of the restaurant has a small bar with fluorescent lights. The seating arrangement is just as funky as the bar with animal prints seating thrown in with a dash of red and black.
The cigar den in the basement transports one to the sets of Godfather – you can almost imagine Marlon Brando sitting like a morose hawk on one of the camel-coloured sofas. “The cigar lounge has pulled me here,” said fashion writer and critic Mohsin Sayeed, adding that he “supports everything that promotes smoking”. Most men present in the basement would agree, as they were seen making themselves comfortable in the spacious lounge while they smoked sheesha. In a corner of the cigar lounge stood two bikes which were the centre of attraction for some guests who hopped on and posed for photographs.
The event was attended by a plethora of media personalities such as Zubaida Tariq aka Zubaida Apa, VJs Faizan Haqque and Anushay Ashraf, Freiha Altaf and Mathira Mohammad.
While Mathira felt “this is one of the places where people won’t judge you for who you are,” Zubaida Apa seemed concerned about the culture a place like Club Genova promotes. “I don’t really approve of all these ideas because they mar our cultural values. But let’s face it; this is one of the best ways to earn honest money in modern times.”
Club Genova may be currently focusing on experimental marketing, but it should really be giving more attention to its food which did not live up to expectations. The fried chicken balls were bland and the beef steak (read carelessly cooked chunks of cow) should be enough to warn one about what their taste buds should expect.
Additionally, in their ambitious attempt to host a grand affair, the restaurateurs invited too many guests to fit under one roof, which made seating a hassle.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 3rd, 2012.
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