From tea stall to global brand: Arshad Khan’s Café Chaiwala expands to London

Arshad Khan, a young Pakistani who gained viral fame as the “Chaiwala” in 2016, has capitalized on his celebrity status by launching his own café chain and is now striving to transform it into an international brand with the opening of its first franchise in London.

Hailing from a conservative Pashtun family in Mardan, Khan learned the art of tea-making at the age of 12 as he worked to support his family.

Khan’s life took a turn when a local photographer snapped his picture while he was pouring tea at his roadside kiosk in Islamabad’s Sunday Market. The image quickly spread across social media platforms, capturing the attention of thousands who were struck by his remarkably attractive looks, leading to his nickname, “Chaiwala.”

In the wake of his newfound fame, Khan received modeling and acting offers, but he strategically decided to open Café Chaiwala Rooftop in Islamabad. With the support of his team, he expanded the venture and established another branch in the scenic mountain retreat of Murree.

In an exclusive conversation with Arab News, Khan revealed that his first international outlet, located on Ilford Lane in London, would open in June 2023. The choice of location was influenced by the concentration of the Pakistani community residing there. To promote Pakistani culture, the café’s interior showcases truck art and other cultural themes, while the menu offers a variety of traditional foods and teas, including karak chai, masala chai, Kashmiri chai, and doodh Patti.

In 2021, Khan signed an agreement with investors Nadir Durrani and Akbar Durrani to open café franchises in the United Kingdom. With their extensive experience in supporting and establishing food franchises, they will help Khan open 10 outlets across Britain. Khan emphasized that the international standards of operating a franchise would be upheld, and he would personally ensure the protection of the brand name.

The success of Café Chaiwala has also attracted interest from Dubai, Canada, and the United States, with opportunities for collaboration and franchise openings. Additionally, Khan plans to inaugurate new cafes in various tourist resorts in Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, including Balakot and Swat.

Addressing the moniker “Chaiwala,” Khan expressed his satisfaction in embracing it as his identity, overshadowing his original name. He cherishes the title and intends to preserve it for himself and his café chain. Reflecting on his journey from a tea stall worker to a social media sensation and entrepreneur, Khan acknowledged the hard work required to reach his current level of success.

Interestingly, despite his association with tea, Khan revealed that he isn’t an avid tea drinker and typically consumes only one cup per day.

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