Can a cafe cater to every type of customer? Bibigon Cafe in Tashkent certainly tries to do that.
Local Uzbek people old enough to know the cafe’s origins will see it as synonymous with the development of the area of Tashkent known as C1 (ц-1). One of those Uzbeks happens to be my wife, and I’ll explain her recollections of its history.
Started roughly 20 years ago, Bibigon Cafe opened chiefly as a hotdog cafe, selling cheap snacks to hungry students and school children. It was best known for its ‘Korolevskiy‘ (king) hotdogs, with not one but two hotdogs—much to the fascination of hungry Uzbek school kids.
After some time, it started to attract young would-be couples on arranged ‘blind dates’. With affordable desserts and coffee, it gave the shy strangers a retreat to meet and get to know each other. Later the cafe expanded and introduced pizza and burgers, among other new additions in this former Soviet state. These days, the food quality has continued to improve (along with the prices), but it’s still a reasonable place to go for a coffee or a meal.
Alcohol was also introduced at one point, and the cafe is now split into two sections. One is a non-smoking, family-friendly restaurant, and the other is a dingy, smoke-filled bar area full of real estate agents smoking cigarettes and drinking water. Guess which one I prefer…
Bibigon in a nutshell? Hotdogs, salads, burgers, pizza, breakfasts, desserts, coffee, tea, beer, vodka, and cigarettes.