With its inspiring architecture and spacious, beautifully-done interiors, LABIM has redefined what a mall experience should be like.
Comfort, warmth, great ambience, and a massive sense of space – this is what summarizes Labim Mall for me. Add to that international and home-grown gourmet eating and takeaway options, great stores to shop at, and an interesting array of activities for kids and adults at regular intervals, and you have the perfect community space that you can explore at an unhurried, relaxed pace. This is also QFX Cinema’s first foray into Lalitpur and movie-goers are delighted to have a world-class multiplex at their doorstep.
If you are a Pulchowk regular you’d know what immense turnaround the property has had. Initially slated to open a QFX Cinemas multiplex, the trio of Nakim Udin, Rajesh Siddhi, and Bhaskar Dhungana took on the Herculean challenge of building a topnotch destination for entertainment once initial plans for a shopping mall was scrapped by the original owners.Their passion is reflected in the avant-garde architecture and the attention to detail in interior design.
In the few months since its opening LABIM has become the place where you take your family to or meet your friends over coffee. It’s a boon to a city strapped for after-office and evening getaways and a shoppers’ haven.
Mango Chilli Thai Café – superb Thai-inspired food in café-like ambience
Sketchy history talks about a Chinese couple that came to Thailand long ago and started a restaurant, which evolved into the Mango Tree brand that currently has 51 restaurants worldwide, serving gourmet Thai cuisine. The Café-style space on the second floor of LABIM Mall that has been attracting footfall since it opened doors in late September, serves Thai food with a twist. Ujjwal Bishnu Joshi, General Manager of Food and Beverage, Exotic Foods, who takes care of operations at Mango Chili, admits that the food served is not the street food that you’d get in Thailand or the standard fare served at Thai restaurants around Kathmandu. “We are the second franchise of the café-style Mango Chili chain – the first outlet opened in Kuala Lampur. We serve Thai-inspired food to our guests in a café-like atmosphere, complimented by polite, casual service. We are here to educate consumers about Thai food and also to show that good Thai fare should not be always about overpowering coconut or lemongrass flavors, or always very spicy.”
Joshi says that a lot of the guests mistake the café for a fine dining restaurant and expect similar service. “We are evolving and continuously seek customer feedback to understand what our patrons want. Till date people have very good reviews about our food. We are serving two types of customer profiles now – those that want a quick meal at lunch or before a movie and to whom we suggest our grapow (spicy chicken basil), stir fries that include bakchoy, fried rice, shrimp cakes, and taro chips – all of these can be plated in ten minutes from the time of ordering; and the ones who come for a leisurely meal after shopping or a film toward the evening – who can order from our range of starters, soups and main courses.”
The executive team at the café underwent a month-long training in Thailand and that gives them the confidence to talk to customers and educate them on the offerings.
Joshi also touched upon two exciting restaurant spaces that are coming up – Masala Zone, right at the entrance to LABIM that will serve Indian street food from the second week of November and Le Mirch, a semi-fine dining restaurant on the second floor that will titillate palates with French-inspired Indian cuisine.
Shoes and Bags from Singapore – come on ladies, indulge!
Two chic-looking stores on the first floor of LABIM have emerged as top hunts for ladies. Unsurprisingly one, DMK showcases international quality shoes for women and the other, Perllini & Mel, dazzles eyes with its array of ‘pu-leather’ bags that are not animal-sourced, also for women. Sunita Rana, store manager for both brands is excited about the response that the stores have been receiving till date. “Shoes at DMK start around Rs. 2800 going all the way up to Rs. 8000. Our repeat customers swear by the sturdy yet comfy shoes and say that the quality justifies the price. Of course the DMK brand is a huge pull too.”At Perllini & Mel, handbags for ladies range around Rs. 4-7000. At the store we met Chandni Singh who is visiting home from London for her holidays. She has already come back several times and between her mother and her they own five bags from the store. “For someone who is brand conscious and doesn’t like to compromise on quality I can strongly recommend the brand. The quality and design are really good,” gushes Chandni.
How Keventers came to Nepal and ‘shaked’ up a storm in a bottle
Bhaskar Koirala, who owns the local Keventers franchise, shared an interesting story behind the changing hands and fortunes of the brand that was established in colonial India by Edward Keventer, a Swedish dairy technologist in 1925. Ram Krishna Dalmia took over the reins of the company in the 1940s and made the brand a household name in India by the 1960s. Bhaskar happens to be related to the family back in India and decided on bringing Keventers here to start a small business after closely following the work that his cousins were doing to revive the brand. Although there was no long-term business planning involved, Bhaskar who interestingly engages in foreign affairs and diplomacy research, admits that the response at LABIM has been nothing short of amazing. People have appreciated the rich taste that makes the shakes special and there is a growing fondness for the unique glass bottles that the shakes are served in. Bhaskar ensured that they were customized for Nepal and they have become a collector’s item of sorts, reminiscent of the glass bottles that were used to deliver milk to peoples’ doorsteps decades ago. The variety of flavors have kept people coming back for more and now plans are afoot to open kiosks and sit-down restaurants promoting the brand throughout the valley and even in other parts of Nepal. “The brand aesthetics would be visible in these outlets that will set newer standards and will continue to promote the niche shakes that is Keventers,” concludes Bhaskar.
“From centers of shopping to big shopping centers, the retail landscape in Nepal is ever evolving. LABIM has set new benchmarks on how a mall should feel and look like,” says Nishant Prabhat Shrestha, management consultant for LABIM through Avid Partners. Nishant, who along with the owners, was responsible for creating the essence of the mall and its outlook is optimistic about the future. “LABIM is just not about a shopping, it offers a complete sensory experience and takes the lifestyle quotient of the city up by quite a few notches. It will continue to better its offerings through value-additions that will be customer-centric. LABIM has something for all classes – from the middle strata to the urban elite, and it is this inclusiveness that sets it a class apart.”