Jakarta Cafe Creating Buzz for Eco-Friendly Living
Beehive. The word conjures myriad images: the queen in her throne room; the honeycomb structure itself; the humming buzz of a swarming mass; a 1960s hairstyle.
But for Beehive Cafe in South Jakarta, the most relevant connotation is the beehive as a community center, a hub of communication and inspiration for a vast and disparate population.
That goal — creating a communal space where like-minded people can gather — is what Roderick des Tombe, co-owner of Beehive, describes as one of his cafe’s primary aims.
“Those spaces don’t exist in Jakarta,” he says, expressing a desire to cultivate a center for collaboration, harmony and “the pollination of ideas.”
This is a challenge in a city where many people shuttle from home to work to the mall in isolated cars, and next-door neighbors are often strangers. But des Tombe and his business partner, Henrih Horthy, seem up to it.
Beehive, an open-air cafe with palm trees, grassy expanses and thatched roofing, soft-launched in early July as a revamped version of the popular expat bar F39 and will have its grand opening at the end of August. It constitutes a true urban oasis, and people will likely flock to it as a much-needed respite from the inner bedlam Jakarta can inculcate.
Beehive’s most tangible step toward community integration comes in the form of two huts and one building in the garden area — the facilities of Life Tree Spa, which leases the neighboring land. Exemplifying neighborly synergy, Beehive and Life Tree have formed a partnership, and Beehive patrons are the beneficiaries. Not only can you get a facial between drinks, you can also take advantage of the lunch special, des Tombe’s brainchild.
“When I worked in an office, if I had a really stressful day, I would wish that during my lunch I could get just a 15-minute massage,” he says, “but nothing like that existed.” This fancy has now blossomed into Beehive’s lunch special: You get an Indonesian lunch and a 15-minute head and shoulder or foot massage, all for Rp 60,000 ($6.36).
Eco-friendliness complements community as the second driving principle of Beehive. While bars with eco-elements exist, like Kemang’s 365 Eco Bar, Beehive will be the first to integrate its eco-features into every possible aspect of the cafe. Some of those features include LED lighting, bamboo roofing and walls, and a shady, well-watered, outdoor setting that doesn’t require air-conditioning to stay naturally cool.
An incipient hydroponic garden features into the long-term plan, with mint, bok choy, tomatoes, eggplant and other vegetables (watered by collected rainwater) growing on-site and used in various menu items.
The menu itself — offering Indonesian and Western dishes, from gado gado to pasta putanesca and sirloin steak, plus fresh juices, smoothies and cocktails — is a lesson in eco-eating. A local farm provides Beehive with a weekly delivery of whatever is fresh, and specials develop around that with a set menu changing every few months to reflect the current season and reduce dependency on food shipped from afar.
For the fried items (des Tombe isn’t about to try to wean Jakarta off its fried food predilection) vegetable oil is nixed and replaced with coconut oil, which is healthier and can be sourced locally. Having sampled the menu on two occasions, I can vouch that no “yum” factor was sacrificed for the sake of eco or health concerns. My recent lunch of nasi campur and Diamond Detox drink (a sweet, earthy mix of aloe, mint, ginger, turmeric, honey and sea salt) left me feeling both satisfied and virtuous.
Beehive’s other endeavors also aim to show that going eco can be fun, and doesn’t require sacrifice.
“It’s the opposite, really. It can be an enhancement,” des Tombe says.
To educate patrons on how to jump on the green bandwagon, Beehive offers things like eco-themed Thursdays, with short films about eco-homes and neighborhoods, talks from an eco-friendly interior designer, and a discount for anyone who bikes or walks to the bar.
The environmental emphasis continues throughout the week, with each night tackling a different theme: Friday is Jakarta-focused, with monthly Jakarta trivia nights plus a live classic-rock band; Saturday nights boast a live music-DJ combo, and both Saturday and Sunday feature brunch and matinees — Saturday’s films address Indonesia, while Sunday goes global.
During the week, Mondays will soon be geared toward self-betterment, both mental and physical; Tuesdays will be a bit quieter, turning to relationships and romance, with board games provided; and Wednesdays will be reserved for networking events, clips from “TEDTalks” and other brainy programs. Des Tombe emphasizes that all programs are short and casual. He knows that part of Beehive’s inherent value is the peace and laid-back atmosphere it provides, and wants the weekly programming to enhance that.
True, Beehive has lofty goals and a long way to go to attain them, but even if it doesn’t reach the high targets it has set, it has already succeeded in becoming a restorative and refreshing urban oasis where the air feels clean and the staff welcome you as a new friend.
Jl. Fatmawati No. 39, South Jakarta
Tel. 021 765 6672