IN a crowded cafe market, some are trying to stand out from the big chains by creating a home away from home, where small groups of friends can drop by and watch a film or play board games.
Life Cafe and 12th Day House, both on Julu Road, are two such places.
The two-story Life Cafe features items owner Summer Sun bought on her trips to Tibet. Sun is also the artist behind all the graffiti on the cafe’s walls.
Sun says Life Cafe is a labor of love.
“If there is something that you really like to do, you need to do it,” says Sun, who quit an office job at a foreign company in 2009 to start the cafe. “I just followed my dream.”
The first floor is rather straightforward with tables and chairs, but the second floor features a movie room. Around 10 people can sit on cozy couches and watch a film together.
“Guests can bring the movies they want to watch or they can choose from our selection. Most of our movies are art films,” Sun says.
“Our customers are mostly young people and foreigners,” she adds. “Here, they are like friends. We do no marketing. Just mouth-to-mouth.”
Sun says she created the cafe with the idea that it would be like a “friend’s home.”
The cafe offers a mix of coffee, tea and cocktails. Simple beef and lamb dishes are available, as well as chicken wings.
Jazz or bossa nova music can be heard quietly in the background. The cafe remains open until 11:30pm on weekends and 10:30pm on weekdays.
Just down the road from Life Cafe, 12th Day House also caters to film buffs.
Owned by actress and director Yolanda Liu, this cafe tends to attract an artsy crowd.
Posters and pictures of television shows, a few include the owner, are plastered all over the walls.
With a high ceiling, films are projected on walls from Monday to Friday.
“Most movie we choose are art movies for the niche market,” Liu says. “I pick them and inform our guests in advance.”
The cafe also hosts occasional poetry readings and musical performances.
“Young people like to hang out together at our cafe because you can watch a movie or play board games,” Liu says.
The owner says several customers have proposed to their sweetheart in the cafe.
“What’s amazing is that all the proposals have been successful,” she says, smiling.
Liu says she is happy to have created a place with a “family feel” to it.
At weekends, guests can learn to make coffee and cakes.
Near Xujiahui, Musk Cat Coffee More is a rather quiet place to have a cup of coffee and chat with friends.
It serves fresh coffee, wines and fusion cuisine prepared by a Turkish chef.
But serious coffee lovers may be tempted to try kopi luwak, or civet coffee.
The beans of coffee berries are excreted by the Asian palm civet in Indonesia. Some critics believe kopi luwak is mostly a sales gimmick while others say it doesn’t taste very good.
Tables are decorated with fresh roses and the generous space between tables allows more privacy.
According to the manager, Lillian, Musk Cat plans to show films on the second floor after renovations have been completed.
• Musk Cat Coffee More
Address: 113 Xingeng Rd
• Old Movie Cafe
Housed in an old mansion on Duolun Road in Hongkou District, this cafe screens old Shanghai movies. Wooden floors and dim lighting make it feel like the 1930s.
Address: 123 Duolun Rd
• Vienna Cafe
This European-style cafe shows foreign-language films every Thursday night. Sipping a cup of coffee while watching a movie here has become trendy.
Address: Bldg, 25 Shaoxing Rd
• 12th Day House
Art movie lovers are invited to drop by for a film every Monday to Friday.
Address: Bldg 5, 516 Julu Rd
• Life Cafe
Customers can choose the film they watch or bring their own.
Address: 427 Julu Rd
Hiding among the labyrinth of lanes in Tian Zi Fang, this is a nice spot to stop for a rest.
Guests can watch old movies or select postcards.
Address: 264 Taikang Rd
• March Cafe
A blackboard, a wall and a ladder will guide guests to the cafe on Wanhangdu Road.
The four-story venue is for movies, coffee and sunshine.
Address: Bldg 12, 1384 Wanhangdu Rd