In yet another casualty claimed by the pandemic, Delhi bids goodbye to Cafe Turtle and Full Circle in Khan Market after 20 iconic years.
After two decades of calling it home, Cafe Turtle and its parent bookstore, Full Circle, in Khan market have shut the doors to its flagship store in the capital. The announcement came late Sunday and has sparked a flurry of disbelief, confirmations of the news, and sad nostalgia from every bibliophile in Delhi. Priyanka Malhotra, the second-generation owner of this family-run business, cited financial constraints and no leeway when it comes to high rentals as the cause for their heart-rending decision.
One of the few remaining bookstores in the city that continued the charm of book-buying in person and not ‘add to cart’, Full Circle in Khan Market will always hold a special place among the city folks. Opened in 1998 in Santushti Complex, they moved base to Khan Market in 2000 and have been known for their unique collection of books. From being the first-movers in keeping self-help books and mind-body-soul themed ones, they’ve been the go-to store for atypical books that you may not find anywhere else.
Not just that, their staff was one of the most informed at a bookstore. Adept at telling you what any book offers or giving recommendations basis your preferences, they did it all with knowledge. The experience of flipping through the pages and buying coveted books (or a new find!) was amplified with their complimentary choice of music. Also, over the years, the bookstore spanning a huge three floors expanded to housing art in the form of paintings, music CDs, and Cafe Turtle. Now one could get their favourite book and sip coffee under the same roof–didn’t get any better for avid readers.
Started by Malhotra’s mother and backed by her father’s publishing house, the bookstore and cafe have been run by their family for the last 22 years. Even their staff has been with them since almost the beginning– from the store managers to delivery executive to kitchen staff. Khan Market is a prime hangout spot, but it is also one of the most exorbitant rental sites in all of Asia, which is what pushed them to shutter. Familiar faces and the warmth of being welcomed by them each time you visit the store is surely going to be missed.
It’s a given that the closing down tugs at not just the owner, but all loyalists too. While we’ll miss the wooden stairs creaking up to the bookstore, the silver lining is that it’s not a complete goodbye. Their outlets in Greater Kailash and Nizamuddin will continue to function, and Malhotra says they’ll soon open a new one in Meherchand Market. Until then, perhaps it’s time to flip through one of your most-loved books you got at Full Circle.
All images: Courtesy Full Circle