Friday, July 15, 2011

Goings-On: Annie Khalid launches café in Lahore


On the evening of 4th June 2011, singer Annie Khalid launched her café, AK Lounge, in Lahore, with various media personalities in attendance at the inauguration. The café is located in Gulberg, and the singer hopes to make the Lounge stand out amongst the other cafés in the area. Ink got a chance to talk to Annie about her new project; here’s what she had to say:

Ink: How did you decide that you wanted to open a café? How did the idea of a café first come up?
Annie Khalid: I knew there was an opportunity to get a hold of the place that is now the AK Lounge, and I discussed it with my parents. They were 100 percent supportive so I went ahead with it. It was a very impulsive decision, not premeditated at all.

Ink: Why did you choose to go with your initials (AK) as the name of the café? And why did you choose to call it a lounge?
Annie: AK is Annie Khalid, and I like the word lounge because it brings visuals of a relaxed, atmosphere, sofas and friends, laughter and fun.

Ink: Who designed the interior? And what did you have in mind while conceiving the interior and ambiance of the café?
Annie: Ali Zeeshan did the interior. I wanted him to do it from the first day, because I had seen his wall art in various places, and had fallen in love with them. We sat down and I explained what I wanted, and left the rest to him. The walls are now a masterpiece.

Ink: What varieties of food does the café serve? And what are its specialties?
Annie: We serve café food at its best, but also go into warm meals as well. The Kit Kat shakes are one of the most popular; also our stuffed steaks are a favourite at the lounge. My personal favourite is the Chicken Mexicana. But I also like the club sandwiches – yummy!

Ink: How did you put together the menu?
Annie: We sat down with the chefs and came up with the menu. It was carefully revised and a lot of the dishes were modified to taste better than ever before.

Ink: What do you think is the most distinctive feature of AK Lounge?
Annie: The wall art is definitely a sight to behold! Also the atmosphere is very welcoming; unlike most cafes these days it’s not at all dark. It’s open, pleasant, and inviting.

Ink: Is there any specific segment of customers you're trying to target?
Annie: No, my aim from the beginning is to have an audience of all ages, just like my music! Everyone is welcome!

Ink: What is the experience that you ideally want the customers to walk away with after they visit AK Lounge?
Annie: I want them to walk away with a pleasant feeling, relaxed and tummy full!

Ink: Do you plan to open other branches of the café in the near future?
Annie: Yes, inshallah, I want to branch out into Karachi and Islamabad. Also into the suburban areas too...all in good time.

Ink: Have you faced any problems with the project so far?
Annie: There were minor glitches, but I think no project of this sort comes without hassles and problems. All very small and by the grace of God I had my Dad there the whole way to sort everything out. I’m so thankful to him and the rest of the AK Lounge team for their hard work in putting the place together!

Ink: You were recently featured in Look Magazine UK. How does it feel to be the first South Asian to be featured in the magazine?
Annie: I feel humbled, and lucky. It’s not just Annie Khalid in this feature for Look, it’s Pakistan. And to know that I’ve represented myself and my country in this magazine makes me proud of myself and I hope my country is also proud of me.

Ink: What are your future plans?
Annie: To keep on working as hard as possible and to give my fans the best of Annie Khalid.

(The AK Lounge location: Shop # 4-5, First Floor, B/3, Opposite Xinhua Mall Gulberg 3, Lahore.)

- By Sameen Amer

Ink Magazine, Jul-Sep 2011

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