Riyadat Mall ROYA CAFÉ
Roaya literally means a vision or a dream that comes true. For eponymous cafe owner, Roaya Sharif, that is exactly what happened when she combined her dream of being a successful business owner with her love and talent for baking, giving life to Roya Café in 2013. Located on the ground floor of Riyadat Mall, it offers an array of delicious homemade cakes and sandwiches as well as an expansive drinks menu, with even something special for the kids. Roya Café welcomes everyone from 9am-9pm to sit, relax and enjoy the homely environment accompanied by its delectable menu. Perle chats with owner Roaya to discover the story behind this quaint little shop.
What inspired you to open Roya Café?
I love baking and I have been baking since I was 16 years old. I used to bake for my family and friends and the idea for a café came later after I had attended a conference. It focused on the themes of the role of women in society and the economy and was held under the patronage of Princess Sabeeka Bint Ebrahim Al Khalifa. I was so inspired by all the Bahraini women that became entrepreneurs based solely on an idea that they had. I had a feeling that I was quite similar to them in the sense that I too have a skill and I can do something with it, and that’s where the idea of Roya Café came from, that and well, I love to bake!
Tell us a little about the menu: what is it inspired by? And what are your best-sellers?
The menu consists of different baked goods which are homemade. I bake them myself in the café and that is something, I believe, which sets us apart from other coffee shops. We have sandwiches that are perfect for any time of day – breakfast, lunch, a light snack and even dinner. The sandwiches are also all made by us, giving us the edge. We have a variety of hot drinks and a wide-range of coffee selection as well as cold drinks such as shakes which are our own blend such as pistachio and date shakes. We also have something very special for the kids called the Elsa Shake – based on Princess Elsa from the animated Disney film Frozen – which is a hit with all the kids that come here! You’ll see them all carrying a shake with them. We also have very generous portions for reduced prices. And we also do catering all around Bahrain where we serve small-sized sandwiches and sweets; a lot of places order sweets from us. We also do birthday cakes on request, they are not personalised cakes but we are slowly starting to work on that aspect as well.
Did you come up with the recipe for the Elsa shake?
Yes we did. It tastes like candy and bubblegum. There was an event held here [in Riyadat Mall] and we wanted to create something new for that event, so we decided to create the Elsa Shake and it was an instant hit.
What about the desserts?
We have homemade cakes, and also cheesecakes. Our cheesecakes are amongst our best-sellers, especially the saffron and rose cheesecakes. For our other cakes, Red Velvet is a customer-favourite as well as our Arabic dessert, pistachio basboosa.
Does your café also have options for diet-conscious individuals?
Yes, by order we make gluten free and lactose free cakes and for the drinks we have soya milk so if someone wants, we can make their drinks using that. I know when people normally go to coffee shops, most of the things are really sweet and sugary and that’s why 3-4 months ago we introduced three healthier drinks for those who don’t want something too sugary. There is the Strawberry Smoothie which is a blend of banana, strawberry, milk and granola. If you have it in the morning it’s almost like a full breakfast and it gives you a lot of energy throughout the day. Another healthy blend we have is the Red Blast which is a beetroot and apple drink with no added sugar. We also have Passion Green, which actually has no passion fruit in it, instead it is made of parsley and apple. When people first hear about parsley in a drink they are unsure of it but once they try it they really like it and some even have second helpings of the drink.
Previously, our sandwiches were all served on ciabatta bread but some customers requested that we also serve our sandwiches on white bread. I thought it would be healthier to serve the sandwiches on brown bread considering there are so many sweet and sugary options on the menu.
For the winter we release the Double Almond Latte, it’s a bit sweet but it keeps you warm and cozy. As for the cakes, we don’t have the same cakes everyday, we keep two or three kinds at a time and constantly make something new so whenever the customers come here they find different varieties of cakes as well.
The theme of the cafe is based on very neutral and cool colours such as mints, hues of blue and beige, what has inspired this theme?
I wanted my cafe to look different from the rest of the cafes, as you can see by the colours. You won’t find these colours in other coffee shops. The “vintage garden” theme of the cafe gives it a cozy feel, almost like when you’re at home. I wanted my cafe to look bright yet make our customers feel comfortable. Our customers really like the colours, especially since these colours aren’t gender specific so the men won’t feel our café is “too girly”. I also don’t use plain cups and plates to serve our drinks and food in. I’ve picked out lovely floral printed ones, from a famous UK brand, to match the café’s theme and, again, I feel they give you a cozy feel almost like you’re at home so you can feel comfortable. Hopefully when we find the right location and we can branch out, I hope to keep the same theme, except maybe add some more plants and maybe even more flowers.
Did you pick the location for this café yourself?
Yes I did. When I came to know about this mall and applied to be a part of it, I was chosen and was shown the plan for the mall and this is the place I selected for my café. I was one of the first people who applied and got selected. I am so thankful for this location – situated on the ground floor of the mall, to the left-hand side as soon as you walk in from the main entrance – because it is an open space and even though our café is not that big, you still get a feeling of vastness.
Where would the ideal location be for another branch according to you?
Well it depends, I hope I can get a location somewhere in Muharraq or Manama, but we are still looking.
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