Located in a beautiful restored Victorian in downtown Salt Lake City, Kahve Cafe with Turkish Coffee and Mediterranean inspired sweets and savories. Never tried an authentic Turkish Coffee? Don't worry, owner Elif Ekin is going to walk you through the experience of Kahve, our August Business of the Month.
UMLF: Hi Elif! We’re so excited to interview you as our Business of the Month. Tell our readers about yourself.
Elif: My Name is Elif and I have been an entrepreneur for over 10 years with my business Bohemian Baklava where I provided fresh baklava to various restaurants and cafes around town. I am a single mom of teenager who has become quite the sidekick with me as we run this new café business venture. I am of the mentality that if I want Mina to go after her dreams, no matter how hard, I must first step in to show that it can be done. I am half Turkish / half American and grew up on the East Coast in RI. I moved to Utah 21 years ago when I first got married and stayed even after I got divorced because I loved how Salt Lake City is so supportive of small businesses and entrepreneurs. The level of community support and assistance is something that I wouldn’t be able to find if I had moved back East. As a single mom, I wouldn’t be where I am now without this community that I can turn to as I have navigated all the ins and outs of the various businesses I have done over the years.
UMLF: What’s the story behind Kahve Cafe and how you got started?
Elif: Kahve Café is my pandemic Pivot. When the world shut down, so did all the restaurants and cafes which sort of killed the baklava business. If I was to keep this baklava business from dying, I had to pivot and pivot hard. I had been saying for years that I had wanted a Victorian downtown to be able to house all the things that I do and one presented itself in June of 2020. It took until February of 2021 to be able to get keys, but I needed the time to really work out what I really wanted the café to embody. People had asked me to years to open a Turkish restaurant, but I knew I didn’t want to do all that. A Turkish Café was do-able. For years, friends would come over to my house for Turkish tea and coffee and just stay for hours talking because it felt like home. That was the essence I wanted to infuse the café: the feeling of home and family. Turkish Hospitality begins in the home, and therefore having a Victorian home was an important element for the environment. I want people to feel like that are family and it has been lovely to see
UMLF: What can someone expect from their first visit to Kahve?
Elif: I like to think of a visit to Kahve like visiting your old quirky aunt who has traveled the world, collected eclectic treasures to decorate the house. I want it to feel like you have come home, like visiting long lost family. There are lots of little nooks and crannies to hide away in with a good book as you drink your unlimited tea. I want people to feel like they aren’t in Salt Lake City anymore and went traveling abroad. It takes a minute to take in all the things because the environment is so different than any other café around. We guide you through the whole process and explain all our different drinks, pastries, and savories. Kahve Café is an immersive experience in coffee where the coffee is made for you in hot sand.
UMLF: You recently started catering events and private parties, what are some of the goodies available?
Elif: We did! We have a variety of house made dips, slow cooked Turkish vegetable salads, fresh salads and of course our Borek and Baklava! We offer our Borek in big family size spirals as well as Borek bites or even in portion sized triangles. We try and accommodate food allergies and make all our salads vegan and most GF. Our cakes are all GF and sold as whole cakes for parties and events. Baklava is always available in house for spur of the moment boxes of assorted flavors or ordered in bulk by the tray.
UMLF: (If not answered above) Tell us about the Wise Dragonfly Collective.
Elif: The Wise dragonfly is the overall umbrella company for the whole building. It is a creative collective with Kahve Café as the anchor store on the main floor. The second floor consists of micro businesses, art studios, and massage therapists. The main floor can be rented for events and gatherings as well as our multi-use room on the second floor and our loft on the third floor. I named it the Wise Dragonfly to pull in the old wisdom of gathering, community, and growth balanced w the dragonfly element of transformation. Our multi-use room on the second floor and the Dragon’s Loft can be rented by the hour or with a membership program of 5, 10 or 15 hours a month. We have various amenities with our rooms such as: a full set of charka sound bowls, 2 hand tied drums (bear & buffalo) tuning forks, massage table, Photo studio supplies (9 ft & 5 ft pull down screens)
I affectionately call my businesses and tenants of the Wise Dragonfly, The Dragons of Downtown. We have become a small family and because of this, we are able to create a foundation to grow together. When one business grows, it lifts the others.
UMLF: Every business has its highs and lows. Can you tell us about a challenge you faced as an entrepreneur and how you overcame it?
Elif: Being an entrepreneur is a harder road than most. Having a brick-and-mortar shop amp up that exponentially. It pushes you to grow like nothing else. This year has been the biggest growth for me as a person than ever before. It is hard to be a boss as well as a landlord. I have cried and laughed about equally this year. It is no joke when they say you have highs and lows. Both extremes come into play with a first-year brick and mortar. It’s not just me and Mina any more to responsible for – Now it is 7 employees and 7 tenants that I carry with me in the decisions I make for the businesses. It is a choice to view it as a weight or a gift. I am hopelessly optimistic to a fault because I can see, feel, taste, touch the future. Holding that line and that vision keeps me going. It’s an interesting journey because you know that you will give your blood sweat and tears to make it work but you also have this peace that it is also ok if, despite all efforts, it doesn’t work. You have to let go of the fear of failure and embrace hope and vision. Be stubborn, but not rigid. I have learned that things always work out and not in the way your imagined.
Surrounding yourself with people who can help you move past those bumps helps enormously! I am a high creative and all this business/financial stuff hurts my brain because at the end of the day, I just want to feed people and make them tea. Find people to help you in the areas that are not your strength.
UMLF: How do you feel like the Utah Microloan Fund has helped your business?
Elif: The UMLF has help me get my footing and get grounded in my business. The Funding helped me to expand our menu offerings and product lines to meet demands as well as hire staff to support me and the café as we grew. The classes and advisors there are always there to help me when I get stuck to get unstuck with alternatives and/or solutions. I have used UMLF for many years with the Banking on Women program and have met with them over the years as my baklava business grew. Their advice before I opened the café and now has been so appreciated because they understand my businesses and they know ME as a person and know how to help me through my weaknesses in order for me to grow and expand.
Go have a cup of coffee and delicious treats at 57 600 E, Salt Lake City, UT 84102