After a long break, Ajo, a dynamic space for nurturing innovative ideas, facilitating social engagement, and generating diverse interactions, is making its comeback today, at Uttara, Sector 13, Road 2. Most of us living in Dhanmondi have definitely missed that unique and eco-friendly restaurant. With its fabulous food and extraordinary ambience, Ajo has always been a place where sparks fly and great ideas are born.
This time, Ajo has a new philosophy - “Ajo Idea Space.” A socially responsible café, Ajo wants to interact with different communities by inviting them to have their meetings, teach people how to paint, or even have a readers' forum and exhibitions every Thursday or Friday. “Nowadays, modern cafés tend to act just like relationships – there is no connection or attachment – and they don't believe in sticking to something for a long time,” says Khaled Mahmud, the owner of Ajo. According to him, restaurants and cafés believe in creating hyper-reality which cannot be sustained for long. Hence, they decided to get away from this trend and actually bond with their customers.
According to Khaled, there is a cultural problem when it comes to the cafés in Bangladesh, and he wants to eradicate that problem through his design and thinking process. Cafés usually have air-conditioners which consume a lot of energy, but Ajo wants to make a change by trying to cut down energy consumption. “We've worked for 18 months on this project. The philosophy behind the design and décor of the restaurant is same. To put it simply, the restaurant has been built in a way which assures sustainability and is eco-friendly,” Khaled added.
The concept of vernacular architecture, which is an architectural style that is designed based on local needs, availability of construction materials, and reflects local traditions, has been used when designing the restaurant. “It's tough, very delicate, and challenging, and there's nothing like it if you can effectively built it,” explained Khaled. Five architects from DW an architectures firm and four designers from Khaled's team have put their best into making the place look as elegant as possible.
After Dhanmondi, Ajo was looking for a place that would reflect their personality, not compromise their inspiration, and maintain their quality as well. After struggling for 18 long months, they finally found an individual plot to build Ajo. However, if they can find an ideal place in Dhanmondi, they'll start planning for that right away.
Their dishes have been highly researched before being placed in the menu, so they did not change the menu that much but have presented it differently. They have also come up with some other ideas that may appeal to Dhakaites. Khaled thinks that crockeries in restaurants do not match our food habits, so their crockeries have been designed in a way to encourage people to avoid wasting food. The main aim behind this is to serve the right proportion of food for the right price.
The cost of a meal at Ajo ranges from Tk150 to Tk800. The goal was to design the food aesthetics of the people of Dhaka. They want to create a platform where there are no barriers and discrimination in class, and make it as simple as possible.