Cecol: The cornershop which still cheers

Posted: 3 years ago

 

 

 

Cecol:
The cornershop which still cheers


 


     
       Herald magazine feature

 





 

If
his unbridled impulse didn’t get the better of him, Patrick D’Souza would be
remembered as another unsung Portuguese-era railway guard. Instead, drudgery
led Patrick to stray from the beaten course and venture into unfamiliar
terrain. His foraying into business with familial backup became the precursor of
Panjim’s once most prominent round the bend cafes, Cecol.

 Still obscure in a corner, Cecol retains its
pride as a must mention spirits retailer address. If you casually stumble in, Cecol’s
ambience is more characteristic of a village watering hole. Its rustic flavour  more homely than commercial. There aren’t any
loud, mall-style neon signs to assault your eyes but a dusky glow reflecting
its pre-Liberation origins.


  Back in the late 50s, when the
opposite-Betim-ferry-wharf corner piece was purchased ,Cecol ran as a popular coffee
haunt, contracted to a manager because Patrick couldn’t be wholly engaged in
his newly adopted enterprise. Five years down the line, realizing that his
baby’s heydays as a soft beverage joint had a numbered future, the restless
railway employee switched to a different track. The breakfast concern gave way
to a grogshop. That bold measure which redefined Cecol, remains its forte till
date.


  Much after the Parra-born founder’s demise in
1984, Cecol, stood out as one of Panjim’s lone outlets, Here your cocktail’s
choicest indigenous and foreign  picks
announce their presence atop open shelves. Resembling books in a fading library
are bottles of various hues, sizes and shapes. Need an aperitif for your
housewarming party? How about pouring a stiff one for your colleagues after
work hours? From an assortment of Bacardis to Johnny Walkers and Red Labels
there’s a kaleidoscope of options.


  Handling the endeavour’s logistics on a
regular basis isn’t as colourful as those impressive arrays of bottles you see
as Diana, who currently keeps her paternal grandfather’s startup afloat will
explain. Operating with skeletal staff on an extended permit means that either
she or her father are on their toes from 9.30 in the morning  till 11 pm. “This leaves us exhausted” is her
riposte when asked how it’s a drawback. 


  The young manager and her folks have but
little else to resent. With steady returns of 6 to 8 per cent on a yearly
investment of roughly Rs 30 lakh demand is far from slackening. 


  This isn’t, however, your average brewed
stocks stopover having much more in store from cashewnuts to jams, cold cuts
and other household provisions. A loyal client base  coupled with increasing domestic tourist purchases
has enabled Cecol survive the rising onslaught from 8, 365 and counting
competitors.


 “No we haven’t faced any red tape applying for
licenses and permits,” she elaborates, excusing herself to entertain another
group of customers while Agnelo keys in his daughter’s sales.


  Would she introduce any future changes?  “Sure” she chips in, speaking of her
intention to also display clothes in another five years as a coping up strategy
to face recession.


  If she hadn’t been engrossed in her present
line of duty, the English literature postgraduate  would be concentrating on  teaching Shakespeare and the classics. For
now, her mind is on a different line.   


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CECOL PHOTO CAPTION