Chaiwala Arshad Khan: from Islamabad chai dhabba to London

Minute Mirror - Subscribe
Minute Mirror - Subscribe

From a small dhabba in Islamabad to a grand café in London, Chaiwala Arshad Khan’s incredible journey continues. Now, his famous Café Chaiwala has opened its doors on a bustling street in East London. The café is situated at 229 Ilford Lane, an area with many people from Pakistan, India, and Bangladesh.

The café proudly displays the name “Café Chaiwala Arshad Khan” on its billboard, ensuring customers know they’re entering the same place made famous by Arshad Khan, the chai seller from Islamabad who became an international sensation.

Thanks to the efforts of three investor brothers, Bahadar Durrani, Nadir Durrani, and Akbar Durrani, the Chaiwala brand has reached London exclusively. They have ambitious plans to open and franchise more cafes across the UK, Europe, North America, Asia, Australia, and the Middle East.

Arshad Khan’s journey from poverty to prosperity is a true success story. Only seven years ago, he was a young chai seller at a roadside stall in Islamabad, with little hope for a better life. But destiny had big plans for him, as he never imagined becoming a global sensation, a fashion icon, and a franchise owner in places like London.

Everything changed when a photographer named Javeria Ali took a casual picture of him serving tea to a customer and posted it on Instagram with the caption “Hot Tea.” Arshad’s striking looks, captivating blue eyes, and serious expression made him an overnight sensation. People flocked to his stall to take pictures with him, and soon he was all over social media, in magazines, and on TV.

His viral fame earned him the nickname “Chaiwala,” which became the inspiration for his brand’s name. Arshad, originally from a conservative Pashtun family in Mardan, found unexpected fame and success.

Now, with the support of investor Akbar, they have opened Café Chaiwala Arshad Khan in London. Their goal is to expand even further, with plans to open over 50 franchises in the UK. The café showcases Pakistani culture with traditional elements like truck art, hand-decorated Vespa, and desi paintings while maintaining a modern and dhabba-style interior.

Arshad Khan is excited to visit London soon and meet his fans, where he plans to brew delicious karak chai for them. He has received countless requests for a London visit after the massive response to the first international Café Chaiwala on Ilford Lane. He chose this location because it’s home to a large number of chai-loving Pakistanis and Indians.

While Akbar focuses on the family’s various businesses worldwide, Nadir takes care of the Ilford Lane Chaiwala. The café is designed to showcase Pakistani culture and create an authentic chai café experience.

They offer a wide variety of Pakistani teas, including karak chai, Gurr chai, honey malai chai, Badami chai, and Kashmiri chai. Alongside the teas, they serve traditional desi street food, freshly made parathas with chicken tikka, malai boti, and Afghani flavors. Their special breakfast menu features Lahori channay paratha, desi omelet, suji halwa, papri chaat, samosa chaat, beef paratha roll, and malai boti.

The café proudly represents the genuine chaiwala culture from Pakistan, delighting customers with a true taste of chai and authentic Pakistani street food.

Since Café Chaiwala opened, people from all over London and beyond have been visiting to take pictures and videos.

Akbar Durrani explained that they secured international rights with Arshad Khan Chaiwala in 2021, but finding the right location that matched the brand’s image and potential caused a slight delay. After careful consideration, they found Ilford Lane to be the perfect starting point, being at the heart of an Asian area with thousands of potential customers. They are now working on opening around a dozen cafes across London.

Arshad Khan’s journey from a chai seller to a model and now an entrepreneur has been truly remarkable. He began working at a tea stall at a young age to support his large family, facing financial hardships that prevented him from getting a proper education. However, when his picture went viral, he embraced his newfound fame and decided to capitalize on it by becoming an entrepreneur.

According to Akbar, Arshad’s success story showcases the incredible power of social media. It has transformed his life positively, and his arrival in the UK through Café Chaiwala is just the beginning of his exciting journey.

Arshad’s story proves that dreams can come true, taking him from a chai seller in Islamabad to a global entrepreneur making his mark in the world.