The café’s name is „hepi vedör”, which means „happy weather” and is written phonetically in Hungarian. And it’s not a joke: the weather really is always nice around here. Whether your’re looking for your piece of the rainbow, the smile you left in your childhood or the misterious door in the corner leading to your imaginary wonderland (again, no kidding), this is the place for you.
Petra&Athina: Tell us about how it all started!
Klári: I worked for multi-national companies for a long time in finance. Ádám used to be a financial advisor too, but we share the love for catering, we love cooking, the colours, the tastes, and we love experimenting with all of that. It was an old dream of mine to have a place like this some day and Ádám literally envisioned it.
Ádám: It’s true. One day I went to bed but couldn’t sleep because I was struck by certain pictures. I had to wake up and draw them down. At first I thought it would be a family business but my siblings were not so enthusiastic about the idea as I was. And then I met Klári. We have known each other since March last year and we figured out what we really wanted this March.
Klári: We found this place in the end of May and decided to rent it. First we had to take care of our other commitments and after that we started working on it: we spent August with shoveling, painting – only a carpenter and a plummer came, basically we did everything by hand. It was a huge work but then we opened on the 3rd of September.
P&A: So you combine your dreams, somehow.
Klári: Yes, exactly. And it seems to work – we have quite a good turnover for a startup business. The other part of the business is actual catering, we deliver sandwiches to companies’ events – and with that we already covered the fixed costs in the second month which is something not every business can tell. People start to get used to the place and we experience that those who come in once, return. For the taste, for the atmosphere or because of us – for some reason everybody finds their way back here.
P&A: Talking about the atmosphere… these design elements must have their own stories.
Klári: The whole idea was to bring back nature somehow. It’s our philosophy to provide as high a quality as possible for a normal price. We pay attention to healthy nutrition too and therefore for example we have imported tea from Germany. There it’s forbidden by the law to use artificial aromas in teas. We placed them in black jars which we bought in IKEA but gave them a personal touch: I painted them black and you can see Ádám’s hand-writing on the surface. Somebody said they are like Winnie-the-Pooh’s jars, but nonetheless we love them. The colorful jar lamps are also handmade, we turned the old steps into a shelf hanging next to the entrance, and Ádám bought a „corner door” on Vatera, the e-commerce site.
P&A: Who is your target audience?
Ádám: It’s really a mix. One of our frequenters is a 70 year-old lady who lives in the street and another one is a 20-something university student. I would say that our clientele cannot be defined by age but rather by the attitude or how they feel about the world. They are those who like delicate, charming, a little more unique places.
Klári: Who are a bit more sensitive, just like us. Who like the atmosphere which is not about the common everydays but about stepping out of them.
P&A: What kind of message would you like to send them?
Ádám: You see, we both believe that there are some deeper driving forces in the world, not only business and material ones. So to make something happen, you have to define it in order to attract it. And we decided that to make this business work, to bring people in and find this place, we had to define at least a kind of mentality. The message is that we have a way of life, a feeling which you can experience in the shop. In the beginning we were trying to say that this is a calm island where you can relax, a place where you can connect with the child inside you, and this also means that this is a happier space where you can be at ease. This is all true, but still a bit too broad. Now we’re trying to focus on a motto to define ourselves.
Klári: Yes, we’re looking for something that expresses the naturalness, the uniqueness. Something that tells people: you can be yourself here.
Ádám: From the outside you can’t even decide if this is a café or a tea house. Some people thought it was a toy or a paint shop.
Klári: They just didn’t understand what this was. You know, people have something in their heads and they make judgements too quickly. They have a usual attitude. Ádám is right: you have to lead them and show what is this about. Some will cross the shop one day and the second day, and then they finally come in on the third. I don’t think this place is totally extraordinary, but we have certainly brought in something unusual.
P&A: We saw something unusual on your Facebook page as well. What are these tea meditations you organize?
Ádám: I participated in a „Thich Nhat Hanh” -type retreat abroad, learning about so called „applied Buddhism” which is the 21th century-edition of Buddhism or Zen Buddhism. The tea meditations represent this and give an opportunity for stillness and mental calmness. People pay attention to a lot of things in the everyday life, to Mom, to Dad, to family, to the kids, to the household, but rarely stop for a moment to pay attention to themselves. This is the goal of our 15-30 minute tea meditations: just to have a tea and do nothing. Be with yourself for a half an hour, take a look inside. Because the world is very noisy and this takes away the attention from ourselves.
Klári: We would also like to organize game nights, this is why we have all these board games here. We experience that people don’t communicate with each other. We would like them to open up a bit to each other, to bring them together because a lot of people don’t find their places. And if you spend just an hour talking or playing, even with strangers, it can have a positive effect. We just have to figure out how to send this message to people in order to bring them in.
P&A: Have you ever thought about opening such a place abroad?
Klári: I lived in Australia for a year and a half and it was a truly positive experience. I travelled with a student visa because I should have waited two and a half years for the professional one. Therefore I couldn’t find a suitable job, but the whole thing turned out to be lovely and funny: I sold crosses and religious shrines, made jewellery from minerals. And I would start a business there anytime because they make it so easy and simple regarding the paperwork and attitude, as well. On the other hand, since I came home I haven’t had the intention to go abroad anymore. With Ádám, we both belong to Hungary.
Ádám: Seneca said that it’s not your constellation you have to change, but your heart. This way it doesn’t matter where we go, the things we live with, accompany us. Hungary or Australia: the pasta may be different but the bowl is the same. I love Hungary and decided that whatever we can give, we should give within the country.
P&A: What advice can you give to other prospective business owners in Budapest?
Klári: You have to set the target audience and choose the location carefully. When we were thinking about this place, we took into consideration all the office buildings around. This was our starting point: if someone doesn’t have time for breakfast, they can come here for a take-away in the morning. Also if you look around, there are plenty of cafés and restaurants in the neighbourhood and we knew it wouldn’t make any sense to open just another one. You have to have a message, an underlying idea which makes it different, something that makes people say: I’d rather come here and not there. We also considered the fact that all the tea houses are on the Pest side, and that the HÉV (the local train line) station is close, so there is transit traffic.
P&A: How would you summarize your experiences about the entrepreneurial life so far?
Ádám: They say you should pick a profession which you would do until the end of your life, even if you don’t get paid for it. I found that here. Business takes up a lot of your time and energy. Maybe I can’t be with the family, the dog, the girlfriend or the turtle as much as before. And if you don’t like what you do and you only care about the financial part, you will crash and turn into a bitter person. On the other hand, I know it’s hard – I see that a lot of people don’t find that one thing they do from the heart. They care about money and only think about what holds the future or what is happening in the present.
Klári: You need patience, too. And this is what I’m trying to learn now. I have a past in a multinational company’s background and here too I was constantly led by the thought that we must cover the fixed costs. As a financial expert you can’t help that. But then Ádám pointed out that we’ve been open for only a month and a half, what do you want? My other friends who lead cafés and restaurants, said you have to give it time: a half a year or even a year. But you really need patience and a sense of safety, financially speaking – none of us is a millionaire. We have done all this from our own money. It’s different to open a café because you have unnecessary 1 million that you can’t put anywhere, or to do it because it is your dream and you invest everything you have. Because you want to give something to others. We are the second type. I agree with Ádám: do what you love.
Ádám: We didn’t open this place by accident, we did it because we missed something. And if we missed something, probably others do, too. Take the example of making a coffee: there are at least 6 things to pay attention to in order to make it delicious. In other cafés they don’t do that. We care and that can be felt in the taste. The coffee then will be thankful and the person drinking it will sense that I paid attention and that I care. We could pay attention to another business opening across the street but then we couldn’t deal with this one. And this all would turn into a vicious circle. It’s all decided in your head and most of the time this is what entreprenurism is about: finding the harmony between your mind and your heart.
If you liked what you read or just curious about the 6 steps of making „the one coffee to rule them all” (we have proof of that), give them a visit:
1036 Budapest, Evező Street 7, Hungary