This spring, the only question that matters in Kazan is: “Have you been there yet?” It’s the buzz of the town. Following in the footsteps of Moscow and St. Petersburg, Kazan now has a one of a kind coffee and tea bar, Tsiferblat (“Clockface” in English).
Co-owner Kseniya would not call it a bar, however. “This is not a bar, it’s a free space,” she said determinedly. Kseniya herself greeted us with a warm smile and “Is this your first time here?” as we shyly stumbled in, after having wandered about the muddy parking lot that one must trudge through to get to the door that leads to a staircase that takes you up to Tsiferblat, a spacious wooden loft. Glancing quickly around at the naturally-illuminated room and bright, colored cushiony couches, we immediately felt at home.
The concept of Tsiferblat is simple: time is money, and everything else is free. When you arrive, you tell your name to the host, who writes it on a large chalkboard and then hands you one of the many old-fashioned clocks kept in an antique wooden closet. A visit to Tsiferblat costs two rubles a minute for the first 30 minutes. After the first half hour, each minute costs only one ruble. Coffee and tea are available free of charge, as are the sweets and cookies in the kitchen area.
Food and drink is only the beginning, though. Tsiferblat offers a wide variety of activities that differ from week to week: check the blackboard for the week’s schedule. For example, there is a salsa night and film screenings. Tsiferblat is a spontaneous place, open to any suggestions for programming. The loft is also stocked with numerous board games, and even permits you to bring your own food and beverage, making it the perfect haven for a mellow afternoon in downtown Kazan (alcohol and cigarettes are prohibited).
Tsiferblat opened on 26 February and is already superbly decorated, but they have many plans for the future. Kseniya explained that the interior is meant to evoke the inside of a ship, and the theme of travel is indeed noticeable in the oil lamps, hammocks, and goldfish. This motif will be taken even further, after a platform in the ridge of the main area is built to host even more guests.
Reading only gets you so far, though – the only way to truly understand Tsiferblat’s unique charm is to visit it yourself. Go check it out, so that you can confidently respond “Yes!” when asked: “Have you been there yet?”
Tsiferblat. 14 ul. Universitetskaya +7 843 253 5219. clockfacer.ru. Free Wifi. Owned by Kseniya Vasis, Artem Kramin, and Ivan Meetin.
Located on the top floor of an office building on ulitsa Universitetskaya, between ulitsa Baumana and Kazan Federal University. The entrance is unmarked through an alley, so be sure to take these directions with you: Walking up ulitsa Universitetskaya from ulitsa Baumana, make a right just before Gorozhanin Café and walk around the back of the building into its parking lot. Enter the door next to a sign reading “ofisny tsentr” (office center). If there is a security guard on duty, mumble “Tsiferblat,” and he will open the door to the staircase. If not, proceed yourself, walking up the staircase to the top floor of the building.