The Path Less Beaten is often an idiom used for one's journey that has taken a path less traveled. Doing this is never easy, but that is exactly what my mother chose when she took the famous American author Wayne Dyer's words to heart: “Doing what you love is the cornerstone of having abundance in your life.” These beautiful words to live by have been embossed on the walls of my mom’s cafe and it embodies everything that she believes in.  

How It All Began

wine, tea, beer, coffee
Shefali Rangi

Being an army officer’s daughter, I am always getting moved to a completely new place almost every two years, which initially was not easy getting used to. For 13 years, this lifestyle took us to different parts of India like Jammu, Kashmir, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan. It exposed all of us to various forms of cultures, especially my mom as she got to taste and acquire knowledge about a plethora of Indian cuisines.

After 17 years of living the army life, mom decided that for the sake of her children, she would settle down in one place and focus on our education. She decided to take up a job as a residence staff, in Woodstock School, Mussoorie, where she got the opportunity to bake different goodies like cupcakes, brownies, cakes, cookies, pies, etc.

cupcake, chocolate, cake
Shefali Rangi

I loved seeing her enjoy cooking for the girls in the residence whenever they missed the taste and comfort of home cooked food. She would also take pleasure in hosting different events such as Sunday brunches and bake sales, which helped strengthen her bond with everyone in the community almost instantly. The girls became so comfortable with her that they would never hesitate to knock on our apartment door to ask for ingredients, snacks, or even help in cooking something up. 

The Actual Idea

chocolate, cake
Shefali Rangi

After I graduated from high school in 2016, my mom decided to move to Orissa to stay with her mother and brother in a small place near the coast called Gopalpur. We own a motel there by the beach that is run by my grandmother. My mother decided to finally take the path less beaten to open a cafe inside the motel itself, as it allowed her to stay close to her family while pursuing her dream, which was extremely fulfilling.

For her it was much more than the business aspect of it, she wanted to continue her passion for baking, something that had been by her side from the very beginning. So, after months of renovation and decorating the interiors, we finally opened the place on April 16, 2017.

Orissa is an area rife with tribals and people who hold onto their tradition fiercely. So, especially when it comes to food, they are very wary of trying different types of cuisines. Most people there have a taste for simple and economical food, which makes it even harder for them to step outside of their comfort zone and try something else for a change.

This was as a huge obstacle for mom as she wanted to serve food that was a foreign concept to the most of the locals; things like slushies, crepes, waffles and so on. However, luckily, the people of Orissa took it as a challenge to step in and get a taste of something that had not been introduced to them before.

A Fulfilled Dream

blackberry, blueberry, cream, cake, cheesecake
Shefali Rangi

My mother's savvy business sense coupled with some fabulous social media marketing, steadily led to her cafè becoming well-known in Gopalpur. 

Her target customers were mostly people from the army cantonment, as she knew that they would have the taste for the sort of food that she was serving. After a few of them decided to try out the food, they were stunned at the beauty of the place as soon as they walked in. They realized finding eateries with an aura like ours was nearly impossible in Gopalpur and after the first bite of mom's exquisite food, she had her customers hooked. 

coffee, pizza, beer, tea
Shefali Rangi

It's evident that the cafè still has a long way to go, however, as a result of Mom's delighted customers, she is constantly encouraged and motivated to do better each day. Nothing else satisfies her more than seeing happy faces leave her cafe, promising to visit again. Her journey with food has always made it a great way for her to connect to the people around her, which made doing what she loves her ultimate cornerstone. 

It all started when she took her love for food and did something about it. She achieved a sense of happiness through cooking for others. It was her various experiences with food from the beginning that eventually became strong building blocks for her decision to make an entire career out of it. Her determination coupled with her ever present passion for food led her to take the Path Less Beaten.

#SpoonTip: Check out more information on my mom's cafe, called Motel Mermaid.