Chitra Vincent (left) and owner Linda Vincent check out the coffee machine. Photograph: Peter Olszewski/Phnom Penh Post
New café in town, Snappy, is the “personal project” of Chitra Vincent, former general manager of Shintamani Hotel and now executive director of the Shintamani Foundation.
Chitra, who is a pioneer in that she was Siem Reap’s first female hotel general manager, is now pioneering a new way to give former students real life working skills.
The café is basically a commercial work experience enterprise that’s a spin off from the Shintamani Development Centre, a hospitality training school run by the hotel and started in 2004. Since then, 175 students have graduated from the school, and some of them have been snapped up by Snappy.
While the Snappy café has been set up by Chitra Vincent, a Sri Lankan who came to Siem Reap from the Maldives eleven years ago, the café is owned on paper by her god daughter, and five graduates from the hotel school will work at the café getting real-life work experience.
“It’s my personal project,” said Chitra Vincent, “I had this idea four years ago. I’ve been living here for eleven years and I’m really connected with the school that Shintamani runs.
“I’m also connected to all the past students, and I have kind of adopted some of them and help them. I cannot be a huge donor for ever, so I came up with this idea as a one-time donation. I’ve set up this enterprise to help the five people who will work here.
“It’s a business and when we start making money it will used to sponsor more education. And that’s Snappy.”
She said the café is Snappy by name and snappy by nature. Cooking time and service will be fast, and the target market is not tourists but locals who want quick service.
Chitra Vincent said Snappy will expand its service to providing lunch delivery to offices and work places, and she hopes that the Siem Reap outlet will in time grow into a chain of diners in various provinces.
“I would like it to grow one day, to grow into a chain and help more people.”
She added that experienced staff from the hotel school such as chefs will consult with the staff at the café to fine tune menus, cooking and service.
The menu carries a range of inexpensive items in the $2-3 range, including a few specialties such as string hopper, a Sri Lankan white rice noodle dish.
The snappy new café is opposite Ivy Guesthouse and next to the Phnom Penh Post’s Siem Reap Bureau, in Street 6, which runs off Sivutha Boulevard at Central Market. It’s open Monday-Saturday.