The fact that Chattogram – the hub of business activity in the country – did not have an international standard café, always grated on Raisul Uddin Saikat. Chairman of the Albion Group - a company with interests in mergers & acquisitions, company valuation, financial & management consulting and executive recruitment services – Raisul lamented the fact that even Gloria Jean's, which has branches in Dhaka, did not find it worthwhile to set up shop in Chittagong.
And then, around six years ago, Raisul walked into a café in Germany named Segafredo, while on a trip to Europe. He was immediately overwhelmed by the ambience as well as the taste of authentic Italian coffee. He decided then and there he would bring this amazing coffee chain to Chattogram.
"I took it as a challenge. Whatever it took, I would bring the franchise to my city."
The team came here and set up the whole shop. All the materials have been imported from Italy
It took Raisul years of persistent effort, communicating through e-mail with the franchise owners and an investment of more than Tk6.8 crore, to make his dream come true. Segafredo Zanetti Espresso, a global chain of Italian coffee, finally opened its doors in Chittagong in 2019.
"The team came here and set up the whole shop. All the materials have been imported from Italy," he added.
Redefining the coffee culture of the city
Famous actor Jackie Chan said, "Coffee is a language in itself", signifying the importance of the brewed drink. In that sense, a real coffee place must not only be a shop to drink and dine. It is a centre of connection or communication, a book lover's hive, or a sweet couple's den. A lot can happen over a cup of coffee.
Raisul had the same vision behind the launch of this international coffee chain. For him, a coffee house is "a place which redefines our lifestyle." Describing it as a passion, Saikat said, "I realised that space like a coffee shop provides a lot of positive experiences. The brews and roasts become more than a coffee, it starts to write life stories."
An awe-inspiring sight
Entering through a passage, a thick glass wall enveloping the restaurant will welcome you. The glass displays different city names of the world where all the Segafredo shops are located in. Inside, you will see a glimpse of a cosy ambiance designed in an ultra-modern fashion.
The décor of Segafredo is a fusion of a bar and a European-style restaurant where the interior is richly detailed. It is a place where aesthetics and practicality have been utilised properly to connect customers to the spaces.
Talking about the amazing look of the interior, Raisul said, "The décor of the shop is an ideal example of Segafredo Zanetti Espresso stores worldwide. It is a prerequisite to use Italian materials, furniture, and machinery, according to the contract. Everything inside, except for the ceiling and the floor, has been imported from Italy."
One of the most attractive interior features is the smoking area where you will discover a small outdoor version of the Italian bistro. Another thing in this place that draws people is the exposed wall exhibiting some amazing photographs of smiling Segafredo models with coffee cups. In the common seating area or the main dining space, an aesthetic cup-wall has taken the shop's interior to a different level.
Experiencing some real Italian sip and bite
This coffee station has almost 45 coffees and 75 beverage items in total, probably the largest coffee collection in Chattorgram. "This wide range of options for coffee lovers of Chattogram is sourced directly from Italy," claimed Raisul.
The list starts from common Espresso, Americano, Cappuccino to off-track items like Marocchino, Vanilla Kiss Latte, or Mayan Mocha. The prices here, ranging between Tk160 to Tk520, may seem a bit extravagant, but the owners point out they have to import all the raw materials.
Taking the present situation into account and realising the importance of online service, we have planned to open a dedicated app for Segafredo's Chattogram franchise. Soon it will be operational
Sontos Chakma, an inspector of Bangladesh Police, recently visited the place along with his family. For him, the finest coffee place in Chattogram is Segafredo Espresso.
Sontos said: "I have been to many coffee places in this city [Chattogram], but finally this place is the best. I tasted the Americano and found it captivating." He however feels the space is a bit congested for a family visit.
Besides a premium coffee collection, Segafredo has a mouth-watering list of Italian food. If you are an admirer of Calamari, Pizza, or Pasta you can give it a try here. You can also taste the Mexican food, seafood, steak, and soups. The food at Segafredo costs between Tk390 and Tk1,890.
Only restaurant with dedicated home delivery service, app
Talking about the home delivery service, Raisul said, "Despite the challenges and difficulties, the pandemic has given us a chance to prove our dedication to the customers. We proved it by providing a sound and fast delivery system, with our own distribution transport. The whole process is maintained with great care, ensuring the health regulations and safety measures."
With delight on his face, he added, "Taking the present situation into account and realising the importance of online service, we have planned to open a dedicated app for Segafredo's Chattogram franchise. Soon it will be operational."