We talked to: Cafe Balagan
We talked to Cafe Balagan
We recently had a lovely chat with Rachael of Cafe Balagan and Balagan Cannabis. Check out what she had to say!
You are a very new business in our lovely community. What made you decide to open a cafe and dispensary in Northampton?
I was born and raised in town, and had a really beautiful childhood here. My dad owned Jake’s for almost 30 years, so I have such fond memories of getting a breakfast sandwich every day before school and a turkey club afterward. I have maintained a fondness for downtown, which has largely remained the same over the years. Ultimately, I ended up in Israel for a while--my husband is Israeli--and we had a couple of kids there. And yet I had always wanted to come back here and have a life here, at least part of the time. When cannabis was legalized, we jumped on that opportunity to partner with some friends who are experienced in the industry and passionate about cannabis. Unfortunately, because Green Bean had to close along with other downtown businesses, we saw that as an opportunity to bring in something new and continue that local vibe. One of my partners ran a coffee shop in the heart of Manhattan for 10 years, so it just felt like the right time to open this new space. Our goal here is to be both a welcoming cafe and a cannabis solution for a really local crowd.
How are things going overall for the business in these uncertain times?
It’s been slow getting the cafe open, due to issues with the supply chain as we emerge from the pandemic. We waited for months and were quite anxious, as it was definitely a risky time to open a spot like this. With that said, we took pride in being a place that was trying to do this and be a part of the big reopening. Northampton has such a rich and diverse history when it comes to retail and restaurants. Business owners and consumers really need to work together at a time like this. Businesses need to make it fun and appealing for people to come out again, and consumers need to show local love and support. We are so excited to be able to offer people a warm and cheerful space where they can finally sit, meet up with friends, and relax again.
What positive things (if any!) have you learned during the pandemic?
While everyone has become so efficient with online ordering out of necessity, we also just want a spot where people can come to sit, enjoy their coffee, and socialize again. I think a lot of people are eager to get out and show their support, and we have certainly felt the same way. We already have regulars, some of whom visit us multiple times a day. Everyone is very appreciative and happy that we have opened up, both for indoor and outdoor seating, and the community has been incredibly supportive and welcoming.
Any other information you’d like to share about your business? Do you have any goals/exciting plans for 2021?
The cannabis store will be open as soon as possible! We are excited to see how the two storefronts will play off of each other--we hope one will support the other, and vice versa. If and when social consumption becomes legalized in the States, we feel that will really open up opportunities for both the cafe and the dispensary. We want it to be warm and accessible, and for people to feel at ease coming in, asking questions, and trying new offerings. For now, we’re just thrilled to be moving along with the cafe--stay tuned for more food and beverage offerings--and for the dispensary to open very soon.