While we all want to live responsibly and do the right thing, being a good person – a very good person – can sound tedious.
Don’t eat that, eat this. Wear a mask. Reuse everything. Be nice to others all the time. Don’t touch your face. You can’t say that anymore.
But being a good person shouldn’t be tedious. It should come naturally, and the new Khari’s café on the West Side of Buffalo makes doing the right thing a whole lot easier. And more enjoyable.
Partly inspired by African spirituality, owner Kartika Carr has created a space that is meant to nourish the minds, bodies and souls of the surrounding community.
“In the current climate of our country, having safe spaces for people is critical: Places to gather safely, because of COVID, places that you trust and people that you know are genuinely there as a resource to you,” she said. “That is something that drives us every day. Especially when starting a business, there are often times when you want to quit, when you want to take a break and you can’t. It helps to remember that we’re creating a space for our community to be well.”
Fans of Tipico cafe, which used to occupy this West Side address, know the physical safe space provided is the perfect mix of cozy and vibrant, with boatloads of natural light shipped by large bay windows.
As for food and drink, Khari’s offers everything you might expect from a modern Buffalo coffee shop: bagels, toasts on Breadhive bread and desserts from Dessert Parlor. Sandwich offerings are planned for the near future.
The new cafe truly distinguishes itself with its Thirsty Thursday juice program. Carr told me she took up juicing as a hobby and thanks to Instagram, her juices exploded in popularity. The Chango drink we tried was slightly sweet and underpinned by a subtle earthiness. Our Eleggua juice featured sweet mango and apple up front, followed by the refreshing shock of ginger.
“The juices that we do are inspired by African orishas, and the different properties of the orishas are incorporated into each drink,” she said “So, like our Chango drink is carrot-based and has an orange color: His colors are oranges, reds and deep vibrant earthy colors. Eleggua likes sweet things and so mangoes are placed into his drink.”
Throughout our conversation, Carr talked about how spreading fun, positive vibes is a big part of the cafe’s mission. COVID-safe music and arts events, such as the weekly Neo-soul Sundays, are a key part of that mission.
She noted that the West Side is a perfect setting for this type of positive engagement: “Everyone from the neighborhood, for the most part, seems to know each other. They have been ridiculously inviting to us. They ask us if we need anything. They check on us. They check on our status. They give input, which is really important with us being a neighborhood café.”
“The West Side has an amazingly rich history and culture,” she continued. “Our neighborhood is extremely diverse: I have every type of neighbor that you can imagine. And so, it’s a beautiful thing to wake up every day surrounded by diversity and to then be able to provide what the community requires as well.”
128 Fargo Ave., Buffalo 14201
Hours: Monday to Friday, 7 a.m. – 4 p.m.,Saturday and Sunday, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.