Posted by: mollyscafeistanbul | September 27, 2011

What I like about molly’s café

I have been thinking about this for a while because I have been suffering a certain degree of burnout. Why do I continue doing the café, besides the fact that I am committed to at least another three years of it? Perhaps I should be committed, ha ha! Now the café is about to celebrate its third anniversary (Sat. Oct. 1 is the party— be here if you can!)


Most of all, I like the customers. I have met such interesting people from all over the world. I was an ESL teacher in the U.S. and I often said then that I was glad that the world came to me. Now I am out in the world and the world comes to me. I get a little impatient with the same questions (what brought you here? A plane, ha ha. Do you live here? No, I commute from Canada every day. Do you speak Turkish? Yes, because I could not do this business otherwise (seriously). Don’t you just love Istanbul? Sometimes– do you love where you live? Etc.) That aside, it is interesting to find a common point of connection. We have been to the same places, I have visited their city/country, I speak some of their languages, sometimes amazingly we even know the same people. People from all sorts of occupations come in here– aid workers, doctors, accountants, bankers, students, teachers, diplomats, architects, lawyers, you name it. Sometimes people who have come as tourists a few years ago are sure to come back to the café and often tourists who are here for a week or two become regular customers while they are here. And of course there are all the local regulars, foreign and Turkish.


And I get to practice the languages I know (or the little bit I know of them). My French used to be very good, but now when I try to speak it, it comes out in Turkish However, I can get along. I studied German in high school, so I can understand some and say enough to say that. My Japanese is long gone, but I can still say a few things. I can say goodbye in Chinese, Persian, Arabic, and a few other languages. And yes, my Turkish is not bad, though sometimes I have to ask people to repeat, especially when I am on the bureaucracy trail.



Like my father, I am very opinionated so here I get to express my opinion about a variety of issues concerning turkey. Especially tourists are very curious about how politics works here, so I get to tell them what I know about the history and current state of affairs of this exciting but frustrating place. For example, I have said for some years that I hoped Turkey would not join the European Union but I was glad it was trying because it was raising various standards. And now the president of Turkey recently said it would not be a bad thing if Turkey did not get into the European Union. In fact, this would not be the time, as the EU would suck Turkey dry, since the EU is going bust and Turkey is going boom.


I like the environment of the café and I like it when other people like it. It is not a ‘concept’– in fact, it came together as things I had that I could use in the café I am happy when people come here and feel comfortable and like to sit for hours with their laptops or their friends or their books. I am comfortable here, in fact.



I always used to say that I would not like to be a housewife. Now I am like a mother in a house full of strange children. I never know who is coming in or what they want.




There was an article about my café in the July Timeout magazine, and at the end, the writer called me the muhtar (like village chief) of Galata. I laughed, but in some ways it is like that. People leave their keys with me to be picked up later by someone else. They sometimes leave their luggage here while they do a bit of final sightseeing or shopping. People bring me things when they move (which partly led to the opening of the 2nd hand shop here). A lot of people ask where they can do or see or find certain places or things and I try my best to answer them. I feel like I am providing a community service here and that indeed this café has become a community centre of sorts.


People who have known me for a while know that I used to give house parties a few times a year. Now there is no way for that, but I do enjoy the social get-togethers that happen by plan or by accident here at the café. The special dinners go well, whether they are open to all or private. Many years ago when I was married, I told my husband that I wanted our home to be a place where interesting people came. I am no longer married, but I now have my wish. Poets and writers come to read their work, artists come to show their work, colourful people come to sit and drink coffee and chat.


And the kitties! This place is a magnet for them, especially females in heat. The café has hosted three litters so far and sponsored two mamas getting neutered. Now the three kittens are not so small, and they are definitely active and somewhat naughty, but they are sweet when they are asleep. I keep chasing some other kitties out, but they keep coming in. I hope having the door closed for winter will solve that. Having the café kitties here makes the place more home-like, I think, and they can be entertaining. Occasionally someone (usually a girl) will come in and have a fit about them, but mostly people like them and often pick them up to pet them.


I like shopping for the cafe. I buy locally as much as possible and keep some people busy (the electrician, the carpenter, the fix-it guys). Every few weeks I shop near the Spice Bazaar (not in it, as they all have tourist prices) and I am still thrilled that I am shopping where people have been shopping for centuries– and that the people in my regular shops recognize me and give me special prices.


So yes, there are a lot of things I like about doing the café It is a lot of work and I get tired of being here every day, but leaving it is like leaving a child with the babysitter. It is probably my last job before I retire and I am lucky to be doing it and doing my part to contribute to my local and global commnity.



  1. Molly,

    Thanks for the time spent with you today. Things improved greatly for me after my visit to your cafe. I wish we were closer together geographically. There is something about your presence that makes me feel like have known you most of my life. What a nice feeling!


  2. Molly, a beautiful entry. I am no longer in Istanbul (life happens), and I will always regret missing my “booking” to read my poetry and play my guitar. If I am back, um, well, I will stop in and audition for the chance again. I miss your place, and the guitar shops on the hill, the Galata Tower and just walking along the tram line on Istiklal in the rain after midnight. L Block

  3. Molly, I have only been in your cafe a few times, but I have always felt at home and plan to come regularly 🙂 Today, I was happy to see the kittens and how they’ve grown from last month – I can’t have pets myself at the moment, so it fills a little empty place in my life to come pet your cafe-kitties. Also, FYI, the ink cartridges were the right type! See you soon, Rebecca

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