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The new look Blue Pumpkin at Boeung Keng Kang Market.
The new look Blue Pumpkin at Boeung Keng Kang Market. Kimberley McCosker

At the Blue Pumpkin, a major facelift gets under way

The Blue Pumpkin bakery and ice cream parlour was Cambodia’s original expat and backpacker hangout when its first location opened 15 years ago.

But times have changed and the iconic restaurant is now undergoing a top to bottom makeover from the menu, to the decor and branding.

Managing director Celine Serriere said the chain was keen to attract more Cambodian customers, following the lead of Brown Coffee, which opened its first outlet in 2009 and proved immensely popular with the local middle-class.

“At that moment, there was a change – all the new coffee lounges, coffee shops changed a lot,” she said.

With an interior design that had remained largely unchanged since 2005, Serriere said it had become apparent that Blue Pumpkin had to adapt to keep with the times.

“Today is the real big revamping,” she said.

While the restaurant will still offer its current selection of baked goods and ice cream with some modifications, the majority of main courses are being replaced by an eclectic range of Khmer fusion.

For example, Cambodian fish and chips, served with fried catch from the Mekong, will be served alongside taro chips and green mango salad.

The idea, explained Serriere, was to create a Khmer-inspired menu “with a twist” that will appear familiar yet exotic to locals and foreigners alike.

Blue Pumpkin’s selection of Western cuisine will also be revamped when the new menu launches in the beginning of July.

The space-age decor, which made the Blue Pumpkins feel like a luxurious NASA lab, will be toned down, too.

Each of the chain’s more than a dozen outlets across Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and Sihanoukville will be renovated one at a time to reflect its new brand image.

The new look, which can already be seen at its Boueng Keng Kang Market outlet, is slightly less minimalist with more wood finishing.

“Bottom line – the items, the recipes, the way we are presenting the dishes, the artwork … everything was revamped in order to fit with our positioning: being an eatery and bakery combining sitting lounge restaurant and take away,” said marketing manager Loic Amiot.

And for the first time, Serriere said, the colour blue will be incorporated into the interiors and logo.

“The Blue Pumpkin is finally blue,” she joked.

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