Cardiff is getting its first Instagram cafe

Cardiff is getting its first Instagram cafe

Get your phone cameras at the ready because Cardiff is getting its first Instagram cafe.

Kaya Kafe will open at the start of November on Roath’s City Road and promises hanging flowers, mood lighting and photo walls as well as a menu of edible flower-adorned Middle Eastern-British fusion food.

The whole experience sounds like it will live up to its Instagrammable name.

Owned by cousins Maithem and Shane Al-kelaby, Kaya Kafe will open on the site of Kaya Lounge, their existing shisha lounge business. It’s the latest reinvention of the business for the enterprising duo.

Kaya will hopefully be open at the start of November
(Image: Kaya Kafe / Instagram)

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“We’re always changing and diversifying. When things go quiet we look at what we can do next. Firstly, we were a shisha lounge, and then we became more of a coffee study place, and then we became more of a party spot with live music and DJs. And now it’s going to be an Instagram cafe,” said Maithem.

The cousins’ idea to open an Instagram cafe was inspired by EL&N, a chain of London cafes which bill themselves as “London’s Most Instagrammable Hotspot”.

Speaking about the Instagrammable appeal of his business, Maithem said: “We’ve got artificial hanging flowers, mood lighting, ring lights and photo walls where you can take pictures. So, it’s quite interactive.”

You can even have your photo taken with Kaya’s mascot, a life-size teddy bear called Kaya Jama.

Kaya’s Instagram friendly interior includes hanging flowers
(Image: Kaya Kafe / Instagram)

The visual nature of Kaya’s food will also appeal to people looking to take a snap for the ‘Gram.

“The food is presented with edible flowers on top, pomegranate seeds and pea shoots. It’s served on very high quality crockery and niche stoneware too. We’ve got a beautiful place and we want our food and coffee to match that,” said Maithem.

Maithem, who has a Welsh mum and an Iraqi dad, has years of experience in hospitality. He previously ran La Shish, a Middle Eastern restaurant on City Road which closed last year as a result of the pandemic.

“We’ve got a huge food background. My dad has been around the industry for thirty years and I learnt off the back of him really,” said Maithem.

You can have your photo taken with Kaya Jama, the cafe’s mascot
(Image: Kaya Kafe / Instagram)

In keeping with Maithem’s Welsh-Iraqi heritage, Kaya will serve a menu of halal British brunches and breakfasts that have been given a Middle Eastern twist.

Explaining the inspiration behind his menu, Maithem said: “Personally we’ve always found English food to be quite bland compared to Middle Eastern food. So, we had this idea to launch a cafe that would be a combination of all the Middle Eastern spices and flavours used to give a twist on the English classics like the full English breakfast, English muffins and avocado and eggs benedict.”

Kaya Kafe is inspired by London’s Instagram cafes
(Image: Kaya Kafe / Instagram)

They also plan to serve their hot breakfasts in a rather unique way.

“All of our full English breakfasts will be served on hot marble. We might be the only cafe in the country to be serving breakfasts this way. When you use lamb bacon, it goes cold very very quickly. The stone gets baked to 50 degrees and it holds its heat for about 20 to 30 minutes so the dish will stay at a very high quality,” said Maithem.

Whilst the refurbishment of Kaya is complete, they’ve hit a number of obstacles which have delayed their opening.

The owners of Kaya come from a Welsh-Iraqi background
(Image: Kaya Kafe / Instagram)

“It was initially supposed to open on October 1 but we had some logistical problems with the HGV driver shortage and sea freight. We ordered these specific tables and we couldn’t get them in the end. Even now we’ve got issues trying to get staff because of the huge staff shortages in Wales. It’s hurdle after hurdle,” said Maithem.

As long as everything else falls into place, Kaya Kafe will open on Monday, November 1.

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