Spanish expat wants a cocktail of art and coffee


“You dont go to a cafe just for a beverage. Nothing stops you from ordering some of the best coffee at home and drinking it in a room. The same goes for food. It is energy that a place exudes that dives one to step out and spend hours,” says Marta, the owner of the eight year old ‘Casa Bella Vista, a Mediterranean cuisine & pizzeria in Chandigarh who recently expanded and renovated the place into an ‘art cafe — the first in the region which will consistently display art for sale by different artists every month.

The place has already witnessed multiple performance art activities and is presently hosting an exhibition by two city-based artists.

The idea of having an art cafe had been on her mind ever since she moved to India several years back and opened a cafe in Manali by the same name 14 years back. “I was clear then, if I ever opened a joint in Chandigarh, it would revolve around art.”

Originally from Barcelona, and hailing from a family with major interest in the arts, Marta, whose uncle was a major artist in Europe adds, “I always felt that a modern city like Chandigarh which has cosmopolitan sensibilities needs more places to display art than just the museum here.”

Also planning to invite NGOs selling goods from artisans to hold pop-ups, she feels that the air of informality is what will make the venture successful. “I am in touch with multiple women-led NGOs in Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh. Imagine the kind of exposure they will get considering the decent footfall this restaurant enjoys. Also, those interested in the arts will find the place a welcome break considering it is not stiff like an art gallery and you can enjoy and buy the artwork in an ambiance where there is no ‘division’.”

Stressing that it is not major names in the art world that she is looking at, Marta says that she would like to give this platform to those who may not be able to afford a gallery space. “That is the whole purpose of it. Also, that may ensure a certain freshness and an excellent blend. We will be holding weekly sessions with the artists who are displaying their work so as to bring the people closer to the creator’s process. He/she can give an insight in an informal setting over a coffee. Whatever cut the restaurant gets from the sale of artwork/goods will go towards a social cause.”

Considering the pandemic and the number of people working from home now, she has also set up a ‘working table’ which can be shared by four-five people who can spend hours at the restaurant and do their work. “Just like in Europe…Working from home cannot be a joy for a very long time, a certain fatigue is bound to step in.