In the past decade, a lot of coffee shops and restaurants have popped up in Kathmandu and many have quite unique stories behind their establishment. Mo:Mo la Palpasa, located at JP Road in Thamel, is a quaint little place that has been gaining popularity among the locals as well as tourists because of the hygge-esq ambience it radiates. The two founders of the cafe talk us through their journey of starting Mo:Mo la Palpasa and the future plans they have for it.
Tara, co-founder of Mo:Mo la Palpasa, already had a small cafe in Boudha back in 2014 called Mo:Mo la where the only items she served were three types of momos and drinks. But due to the disruption caused by road construction going on in the area, she had to shut down the business in August 2016. Tara and, her Mo:Mo la Palpasa partner, Nirdesh acquired the current location for their cafe in late 2017 as the previous owners of Palpasa Cafe sold it to them. They launched Mo:Mo la Palpasa Coffee in December last year, effectively merging together the two eateries.
Tara divulges that she quit her job at an INGO just before the re-launch of her cafe as she was feeling too restricted and confined at her job. Tara, who calls herself a free spirit, admits she is in a happier place now that she does not have a set nine to five job. Besides managing Mo:Mo la Palpasa, Tara is a freelance blogger and a philanthropist and has plans of releasing a book sometime in the future and to use the funds generated from it to help people in need.
Even now, she uses her earnings at the coffee shop to help the kids in her locality in their educational pursuits. “I help kids with the smallest things like buying stationeries. I get peeved when people start talking about all the good things they would do if they earned enough money. That’s really silly. I believe you can do it all right now with what you have. Just start with the smallest acts. That’s the most important aspect,” says Tara.
Both Tara and Nirdesh firmly voice their opinions against the social hierarchy still prevalent in our country and refuse to give their surnames because they do not want that to be their only identities.
Coincidently, Nirdesh had just gotten back from India, where he spent some time after completing his Bachelor’s and Master’s in Business Management in the UK, just around the time Tara resigned from her job. “We met through a mutual friend here in Kathmandu and just clicked. She had ideas of running her own business and I wanted to launch my own enterprise in Kathmandu but I was working at another organization as a manager,” says Nirdesh of Mo:Mo la Palpasa’s beginnings. Apparently, he too felt restricted at his job and, after a while, resigned from it opting to re-launch Tara’s old business idea in a more innovative way.
Now, Mo:Mo la Palpasa proffers their cheese momo as the café’s specialty and serves it with Kimchi (pickled radish) that is prepared by Tara’s 78-year-old mother. They claim that the Kimchi is a hit among their customers and, complying with popular demands, they also plan on having it bottled and putting it up for sale at their café. Tara and Nirdesh also provide Barista training at the café to anyone who is interested in learning the tricks of the trade. Their current Barista, who was Tara’s student during one of her field trips to remote places of Nepal through the INGO she worked under, also got trained at Mo:Mo la Palpasa.
Mo:Mo la Palpasa is also a place where you can quietly read a book over a cup of coffee.
They have a tiny library of sorts from where you can borrow a book to read during your visit. Also, if you donate a book at the café then they will even give you a free cup of coffee. And for every cup of coffee you purchase, five rupees go into a fund to educate children in Dolpa. They also sell tote bags with fun quotes on them and Rs100 from every purchase of the tote bags also go towards the same cause for which they have teamed up with Snow Yak Foundation.
Nirdesh claims he loves Mo:Mo la Palpasa because it is a platform for him to connect with other individuals and, for both him and Tara, the café serves as more than just a financial venture. They have plans of innovating their business in at least one aspect every single month and assert that the cafe will undergo both minor and major changes throughout its existence. As of now, their biggest goal is to open more outlets of Mo:Mo la Palpasa throughout Kathmandu so that more people can enjoy their food, coffee, and the homely atmosphere they provide.