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Seva Café was started in Ahmedabad more than a decade ago on the principle that giving gives joy to the giver. This principle has stood the test of time, here at Seva Café which has successfully been running this beautifully done café for 11 years with the help of volunteers and a few full-time staff.
The café encourages people to volunteer their time to help out in cooking, cleaning and serving at their own convenience. Some people have been volunteering here since its inception.
Here the guests who come to eat are not given a bill. The food is free, already paid for as a gift by someone who came before you. At the end of your meal, you are given a folder in which you can put in whatever amount you want to. This will be used as a gift for the next guest who comes in.
Infact, at the end of the day, the staff and volunteers just total the amount collected in the day and then after deducting for costs of essentials, the rest is used to buy food for the next day. Even the menu is set up according to the amount that is collected.
Seva Café is situated on the top floor of Shopper’s Plaza complex, on the happening C G Road, which is very popular with the youth. It has an open to air seating arrangement with an open kitchen. It also has a small indoor seating arrangement for those rainy days.
Done up in traditional ethnic style, it has a wall with vertical garden and captions and slogans on giving on the walls along with traditional crafts on it. The chairs and table are of heavy wrought iron which goes well with the décor.
There is also a traditional Jhulla (swing), which is such an essential part of a Gujarati home. Guests can sit and enjoy rocking themselves gently on the swing. There is also a bell which you can ring if you are pleased with the food and service.
The food served here is simple but tasty and healthy. There are the usual Gujarati snacks like Dhokla, Muthiya, Sev Mamra and Thepla. There is tea, coffee, sandwiches, Upma, Poha and also Pasta. It is mostly snacks which are served here.
The café operates only in the evening from 7 pm to 11 pm. They serve only 50 guests each day, after which the restaurant stops accepting any other guests. Often 50 guests have already come in by 9 pm, especially on weekends.
Tagline of the restaurant: Seva Café: Living is Giving
A published author working on her second book, Sonal worked for many years as a journalist in The Indian Express, The Asian Age and DNA Newspaper where she regularly reviewed restaurants and wrote about food. She worked in Nairobi as a general manager of a group of restaurants in another era. She loves experimenting with food but is also known for her Biryanis and Kababs and even her baking skills. She likes travelling to little known places and if she finds quaint eateries it just makes the trip more fun. Currently based in Ahmedabad, she is happy with the growing awareness of gourmet food in the city.