Originally started by Pascal Zimmer, Kaale Kaffi has been a hotspot for art and coffee lovers.
Since 2016, Turkish-born manager Solak Mustafa has run the place, slowly adding his personal flair to it. His love for art is evident everywhere: from the walls to the floors to the toilets. The best thing about it? There are also quite a few gems for sale. We sat down with the entrepreneur to talk about his love for art and the concept behind “Kaale Kaffi”.
You are from Turkey. Why did you decide that Luxembourg was the perfect choice of residence for you?
It was interesting. I heard about Luxembourg for the first time when I was still a child. At the time, I was playing football and still listening to football news on the radio. One day I heard the speaker talk about Luxembourg losing to Turkey in a match and I was super happy at the time. Then my parents explained to me that this is normal since Luxembourg is such a small country and there weren’t many professional players at the time. I became really intrigued by the country and said that I would like to move here at some point. Obviously my parents didn’t believe me back then. I then moved to Florence to study art and once I graduated I took a little trip through Europe in which I also included Luxembourg, and how much I liked what I saw, I decided to settle here. It was in 1992. When I obtained Luxembourgish nationality, I went to see my father and I said to myself: “remember the time I told you that I would like to move to Luxembourg, well here is “. And I showed him my passport. This is how things can turn out (laughs). Sometimes you just have to listen to your instincts.
When did you get into art?
I have been passionate about art since my childhood and after my studies in Florence, this love deepened. It’s just a whole different category of art and it shaped me a lot and my taste for art. For me, art can be a way to create a mood and change the energy of a room. Art can bring new ideas to people and I love the idea. And honestly if you run a place like this you have to love what you do to stick with it because it can be a lot of work – with all the cleaning up and everything – but for us it’s fun before. all.
How did it go for you to cover ‘Kaale Kaffi’?
I was an antique dealer and always thought that people like me needed a place to go where they felt comfortable, could relax, but also be surrounded by art. So when I became the director of ‘Kaale Kaffi’ in May 2016, I decided to change the concept a bit to have more of a vintage art cafe. At first it was really hard. Like, you are sitting here and no one is coming in, people just look very skeptical but rarely come. So obviously I had some doubts, but then we started changing the decorations, adding comfy sofas and rugs, and word started to spread and the place continued to gain popularity.
What makes this place so special in your opinion?
I think it’s all in the warm and familiar atmosphere. You can buy coffee around every corner, but it is this feel-good atmosphere that makes this place so special. People just come to relax for a few hours, and I’m really happy that we can offer them a place like this. Then there is also our very popular homemade orange cake. You know, it’s just one of those cakes that you have to come back to over and over again. I even have a client who lives in England and she asked friends to bring her 10 pieces of orange cake when they came to visit her (laughs).
You also sell vintage artwork here. How do you source your articles?
My son and I are very fond of art, so we have a huge personal collection of which we occasionally show and sell pieces. Then we also work with depot-vente, which is good because you get free decoration for a while (laughs). The thing is, I don’t like to advertise that we also sell stuff because I don’t want my customers to feel like they’re walking into a store when they come here. It would ruin the whole atmosphere that we are trying to maintain here. We have become known as a cafe and I want it to stay that way, even though we also sell artwork alongside. It’s supposed to be more of a side-gig.
What makes vintage art so special?
I think vintage art has seen a massive increase in popularity because it’s quite affordable and it makes such a big difference in a room. Having a single large painting on one wall can completely change the mood of the room and it is very powerful.
How did you experience this last year?
It was tough, both emotionally and financially. We never lived very richly which is probably what saved us, since we didn’t have big expenses, but obviously we did have a few losses, like everyone else I guess. I think we did pretty well so I’m very happy and grateful for that.
What can we expect from you in the near future?
We want to immerse ourselves more in the Luxembourg market either by launching a new brand or a new concept or something. We have a few ideas and would like to expand into other areas a bit, but nothing is concrete yet and with the pandemic still present, I think it might still take some time. But when it comes to this place, we’ve recently paid a lot of attention to our online presence and our patio to get the word out even more. The internet is the perfect place for this and gives us a platform to increase sales. We’ve survived two and a half years of a construction site right outside our door and two episodes of COVID, so anyway, we’re pretty optimistic for the future.
Where? 9 Rue de la Boucherie, L-1247 Luxembourg.