You’ll hear a million stories on the shores of the Lake of Ohrid, but the story you will read today is different from the others. There are many restaurants and cafes in Ohrid, but Fort café has a story that makes this cafe unique. Just a few steps from the Samoil Fortress, is located Fort café surrounded by the wonderful view of the lake. Its story begins 8 years ago and today we will talk with Violeta Cepenkovska who is actually the owner.
Wonder Where: Where did the idea for opening a café come from?
Violeta: This idea came to us quite by accident. Somewhere in the middle of the season we decided to open a small place for the foreign tourists to take a break after the tour of the city of Ohrid. Of course, here are also the individual tourists who, because of the location, which is in front of the entrance of the fortress, want to stay longer and enjoy the beautiful view and their desire to look at those walls of the ancient building. On this location there was nothing suitable where the tourists could have a rest after visiting the fortress, and now after the café was opened all the foreign tourists who have visit it once are coming again. It is probably because this café has remained in their memory and certainly there is a reason. The peace, the tranquility, the view, the hospitality and the kindness of all the employees are real facts; some of them have been there from the beginning and they are like part of our family which gives the place a great value.
Wonder Where: Tell us about the development of the story of Fort café.
Violeta: The story spread among the guests who recommended it to their loved ones, among the travel agencies who put it in their programs as a place for a little rest and from a small mini cafeteria, it has grown into what it is today. The interior is like a small gallery, antique shop, the museum of our family. There are tidy terraces around the building, which were previously neglected and distorted the space in front of the fortress. Now it is a large flower garden from where the most beautiful view of the fortress extends. As the story grew, so did the demand, and so did our offer. For the tourists who came in small groups, from 4 to 8 people who wanted to enjoy in the traditional Macedonian food here, we started to organize intimate lunches and dinners. The foreign tourists want to enjoy in the exquisite taste of the Macedonian cuisine in small portions and we kept that moment. We also organize a traditional “Ohrid table” for all the guests that have previously been announced.
Wonder Where: What is the story that Fort café tells?
Violeta: Having in mind the whole story, the tradition, the family values and customs, we decided to tell the Ohrid city story in a different way, more authentic, more unique way, which will present the tourists the different side of Ohrid, as it really is. Because Ohrid is not just the beach and the fair, Ohrid is a tradition, culture, wealth, spirit, love… Ohrid deserves to overcome that stereotype made by the mass tourism and to offer an authentic story as it deserves, a story that we don’t have to invent it, we have already inherited it from our families.
Our guests are usually foreigners who know how to enjoy in a special way, out of the hustle and bustle of the city, respect the tradition, and want to see the Ohrid customs from another angle. They quietly enjoy every moment in order to stay deep in their memories, like a nice and pleasant moment from Ohrid.
Of course, there are also the domestic guests who already feel our place like their own. On the outside in the open terraces, everyone enjoys in their own way, whether overlooking the lake or the fortress, feeling the smell of the flowers and enjoying under the wide shadows of the old walnuts. Inside everyone can enjoy while listening our family story, the tradition in a relaxed atmosphere, in a place just for them. As our guests we have hosted ambassadors and presidents, as well as all ordinary people who want to enjoy and experience the different story of Ohrid. We are here for everyone and everyone is welcomed.
Wonder Where: What makes you unique?
Violeta: The first welcome for all those who have previously made a reservation is in a traditional way with sweet and water like in the old times and on their tables there is a crystal bowl with chickpeas mixed with raisins and walnuts from the yard. The food is served in small quantities and in appropriate plates and utensils; there are the homemade cookies, a coffee for “goodbye” and a coffee for “until next time”. That is the so-called “Ohrid table”. For a small number of guests, of course with prior notice and reservation, food and drinks are served in crystal glasses, silver cutlery, crystal serving dishes, porcelain coffee cups which are a personal collection of our mothers, a traditional collection that cannot be found today.