QUETTA: Fahad Ishaq and his brother Qadeer are busy arranging chairs and tables, as visitors arrive from different parts of Gwadar to enjoy a sip of tea and watch the sunset from their three-story boat cafe — the first of its kind in the southwestern Pakistani port.
Opened last month, Cafe Padizar takes its name from the beach where it is docked, overlooking the high, rocky cliffs of the coast of Balochistan province and the Arabian Sea.
The boat, which belongs to Ishaq’s family, has not been used for years after its engines broke down.
In 2021, when he graduated in business administration, Ishaq decided to put his degree to good use and started renovating the old vessel. Together with his brother, the 21-year-old invested Rs1.5 million ($7,200) to bring the boat back to shape and two years later turned it into a hangout spot — one of the very few in the impoverished, underdeveloped region.
“We had decided to turn the boat into a cafe,” Ishaq said. “The internal parts of the boat were completely damaged, and now there is a space of more than 100 customers.”
The cafe serves tea, coffee and snacks. In the future, the brothers are also going to introduce more food items to its menu and give work to more people.
“Right now, we have hired six workers to serve customers in Cafe Padizar,” Ishaq said. “But in the future, we have plans to expand the cafe.”
Business ventures are not always a sure success in Balochistan, a sparsely populated mountainous region bordering Afghanistan and Iran. Despite Gwadar being the center of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, it has been reaping few rewards from the multibillion-dollar infrastructure and energy plan.
Cafe Padizar is not the only business Ishaq runs. His company BOASIS Tourism specializes in bringing visitors from Karachi, Quetta and Islamabad to the sandy beaches of Balochistan.
“Tourism and traveling have been my passion since childhood,” he said. “Cafe Padizar will help in fostering tourism in Gwadar.”
The first place of its kind in the whole city, Cafe Padizar has so far been successful in attracting visitors, as something entirely new in the city where the last cinema closed nearly two decades ago.
One of the cafe’s visitors, Aurangzaib Abdul Rauf, said that previously only fishermen had the opportunity to enjoy the views that everyone can now see from the top deck of the former fishing boat.
“The café has been attracting tourists from the nearest towns,” he said. “The majority of us come here in the evening to enjoy the sea covered by the mountains.”