Pakistani family looks to expand menu and spirits by expanding tearoom at Tysons Corner Center

Cha Tea House was born from a place of family love and a little naivety.

Co-owners Sofhia and Usman Qamar and Suhail and Saba Kamran started the family business with two food trucks and outdoor seating behind downtown Springfield on October 17, 2020 in an effort to recreate the relaxed atmosphere and sociable roadside restaurants common in their native Pakistan.

However, none of the owners had experience in the food industry, admits high school teacher Sofhia Qamar. His partners in the business are an accountant, a wedding decorator and an entrepreneur.

As a result, the group had to learn to adapt quickly, a necessary skill for any small business owner, even without the new anxieties introduced by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The first weekend we prepared enough for a thousand orders. We thought, okay, this would last us three days, ”said Sofia. “We ran out of food after two hours of operation on day one, and it didn’t stop… The feedback we received was absolutely amazing.”

Cha Tea House has been so successful in its first year that the team is now preparing to open its first brick and mortar location at Tysons Corner Center, potentially as early as the first week of November before the start of the season. vacation.

Located on the second floor of the mall between & Pizza and Cava Mezze Grill, the cafe will offer indoor and outdoor seating with a patio fitted with lights and heaters when the weather gets colder.

While the menu will be essentially the same, with paratha rolls and other entrees, snacks, milkshakes and mojitos in addition to signature teas, the Tysons site will allow Cha Tea House to expand its offering with more than fresh pastries, desserts and salads. , says Sophie.

The company also hopes to expand its customer base outside of the South Asian community, many of whom are immigrants, who have gathered around the Springfield coffee shop.

“Part of our willingness to open it up was to be able to share this feeling of being at home with expats, who are foreigners and lack the country they left behind,” said Sofia. “But the other part was sharing it with people who don’t know much about Pakistan, so we figured Tysons would be a great place for that, because it’s still so diverse.”

The dhabas that inspired Cha Tea House are roadside restaurants or food stalls that sell tea and snacks to patrons who consume them while sitting outside. They tend to be modest in appearance, but Sofia says they are “the best places to eat.”

She describes their function as more akin to that of a bar than the on-the-go mentality of an American cafe. With tea being substituted for alcohol, especially in predominantly Muslim countries like Pakistan, customers visit as much for the opportunity to socialize as for food and drink.

“In our culture, tea is basically the thing you surround yourself with when hosting social gatherings, so our tearooms are where everyone goes to connect, talk and hang out,” explained Sofhia. at Tysons Reporter.

In a similar vein, Cha Tea House hosts performances by local musicians and other artists every Saturday night, a tradition that will continue at the location of the Tysons Corner Center with a focus on young students, singers, poets. and writers.

Cha also strives to cultivate a sense of community by donating a portion of her profits to selected nonprofits. The current beneficiary is the Karachi Down Syndrome Program, which provides support and resources to people with Down’s Syndrome who live in the Pakistani city.

Sofia, whose daughter has Down’s syndrome, says the program seemed appropriate for their mission and background, but Cha hopes to support more organizations as it grows.

“We look forward to partnering at Tysons and not only being in the community, but being a part of that community,” she said.

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