By Isanella Patoir
The Backyard Café has everything that will make you feel at home, serving creative dishes by fusing local herbs, meat, vegetables and fruits.
From the parrots sitting on a branch to turtles creeping on the ground and a hammock to rock in while the fireside smokes, this unique establishment captures the essence of being at home in Guyana.
The owner and chef, Delven Abrams, spoke with News Room at the Cafe in West Ruimveldt Georgetown opposite the Ascension Secondary School.
“We came back to do farming in Guyana six years ago and at that time there was a drought…and we spent tons of money.
“I actually used up a lot of money on the farm and we ran out of the money, so the Backyard Café was something to do to raise funds and it stuck,” Abrams said.
He was born in the Fire Station in West Ruimveldt and spent the first half of his childhood with his father in Georgetown after his parents separated.
His mother went to live in Craig, East Bank Demerara and while he would often visit, it was not until his father migrated to the United States that he actually lived with his mother, which shifted his life from city to the countryside.
“For a kid, it was devastating at the time,” Abrams said.
“My mom had chickens and ducks in the backyard, and I never saw that growing up in the city.”
However, it was while living with his mother that Abrams developed his love for cooking.
“On the weekends she would bake – bake the salara, pone.
“She would make roti and then she would sell it; she had a little shop…and I would always be experimenting with her.
“I would do the (buns) differently and she would yell sometimes, but after a while she saw something.
“You know, this kid is different!”
And thus cooking became a hobby. He moved to the United States but re-migrated six years ago, turning his hobby into a booming business.
“…the intention here is just really wanting to show the world and other Guyanese living overseas, that you can come home to real Guyanese food,” Abrams said.
The family also sells plants and organic fertilisers. And when the chef and owner is not satisfying customers with his local dishes, he is taking them on tours to markets around the city, up the Essequibo river and even Suriname.
The Backyard Café was not without challenges.
“The banking system is a tough challenge and I need to see that change for young people,” Abrams relented. He is hoping to extend the café to the outskirts of the city.
He gets his food supplies from his uncle’s farm such as chicken, duck and pork and the vegetables and fruits.
The most unique thing about this establishment is that it deals specifically with customer satisfaction and caters to the culturally diverse people of Guyana.
“We don’t have a menu. What we do is have our customers challenge us – tell us what sort of food you would like and we get that prepared,” Abrams explained.
“You make the reservation. You make the time. You tell us what you would like to eat from whatever time you are going to be here.
“You want to come at six ‘clock in the morning, my team will be here,” Abrams said.
When you visit the Backyard Café, you can leave with handcrafted souvenirs such as earrings, necklaces and baskets that Abrams’ cousin Rubiana makes.
It’s a family business.
His fiancé is the one who does the desert.
His fiancé’s mother is the sous chef. The guys that puts everything together is his fiancé’s brothers.
“So we all work together as one.”
Persons who visit can leave their mark at the café by posting a note on the wall.