Meet the owners

Meet Sonal

Sonal Jogia launched Urban Butterfly last summer, serving plant-rich wholefood delights, from bountiful Buddha Bowls to fruit-packed smoothies. Louise Cummings visits the family run independent cafe

What inspired you to launch Urban Butterfly?

We moved to Cambridge about seven years ago, having lived in India for 12 years, and London prior to that. My husband Subhash and I are both vegetarian, mostly vegan, and whilst we were spoilt by the amazing choice in London, we were slightly disappointed by Cambridge’s vegan scene back then. The green dot on most menus wasn’t the most inspiring in terms of ingredients. So, we knew there was a gap in the Cambridge market, plus, growing up in an Indian family, food has been a central part of my life since I was a child!

Your vision for Urban Butterfly is not only for a café but also an uplifting wellbeing space too, isn’t it?

Yes, I had a bigger vision to create a holistic space, to nurture mind, body and spirit, and food is one part of that. I felt that post-Brexit and post-Covid, there was a lot of healing to be done so we wanted to create a neutral, safe, community space to bring people together and provide a melting pot of minds. We also wanted to offer a space for people to re-connect, be that the older or younger generation; somewhere you can walk in and feel your spirits lift!

What made you choose your current location on Regent Street?

We thought the location was fantastic, overlooking Parker’s Piece, and right in front of Downing College. It used to be a Mexican takeaway decorated in bold red and black so we’ve picked a calming palette of colours. We commissioned graphic artist specialising in wall art, Sadhira Wagiswara (@sadiraw) to design a vibrant butterfly mural on our exterior wall, facing Parker’s Piece, which people say has transformed the street scene. We just love watching people stopping, admiring and posting selfies!

How did you devise the café name?

I have always liked the word butterfly as it signifies transformation, infinite potential, joy, and the ability to experience the wonder of life, which all fit with our ethos to create a little oasis in the centre of ‘urban’ Cambridge.

Please whet our appetites by describing your food offering?

We cook fresh tasty plant-rich whole foods, showcasing that vegan food can be delicious, filling, and isn’t merely salad leaves thrown in a bowl! There are flavours from different regions running through the menu, including Indian, Mediterranean, Mexican and East Asian.

The Buddha Bowls caught our eye! What tantalising flavours do you have?

Our Buddha Bowls start with a fresh salad base and we have the Moroccan with falafel, hummus, beetroot and chickpeas; the Mexican with edamame, avocado, quinoa and tortilla chips and our Superfood bowl with edamame, beetroot, olives and sweetcorn. All are garnished with seeds, pomegranate, fresh coriander and fresh spring onions.

The Buddha Bites including samosas, falafel and loaded fries sound delicious too. . .

Yes, our loaded fries, which we garnish with our secret mix of herbs and spices, are a bestseller. The falafels are handmade with sweet potato and raisin so offer a different take on a classic. We also have panini; the caprese, which is sun-blushed tomato, pesto, and plant-based mozzarella, is especially tasty.

What do you offer for those with a sweet tooth?

We have a soft serve ice cream which is vegan friendly and as far as we know, no-one else in Cambridge is offering this, plus our gorgeous vegan carrot cake and coconut and chocolate flapjack. We also serve fruity smoothies and shakes such as Strawberry Split and Very Berry. Our Caribbean Crush is a popular choice, blending mango, pineapple, coconut, lime and mint, and we have a green smoothie which combines kale, spinach, mango, avocado, coconut and lemon.

You’ve been open for just over a year now; what’s the most rewarding aspect of the job so far?

I love it when we bring a smile to someone’s face, whether that be through our food, through customers having their picture taken by our beautiful butterfly mural or through conversations with
fellow diners. Whatever mind space you are in, if you change that and feel better when you walk out, then that, to me, is job done!

What’s on the horizon next for Urban Butterfly?

I’d like to bring our offering to other communities, including schools, universities and hospitals.
If we could serve that community, that would be fantastic!

Urban Butterfly is at 33 Regent Street, Cambridge. Visit urbanbutterfly.co.uk

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