Café Chaiwala Arshad Khan London in ‘deep financial trouble’

LONDON: The London café of Pakistan’s most famous Chaiwala Arshad Khan has run into serious financial troubles, a year after its mega launch.

The UK franchise owners have not paid royalty to Arshad Khan as promised, according to an insider. Arshad Khan has been making polite requests to the London café owners who have refused to pay him citing business losses and also refused to pay rent to the landlord.

Arshad Khan’s brand was brought to the UK last year by two cousins: Nadir Khan Durrani and Yaver Akbar Durrani. UK Companies House record shows that aver Akbar Durrani registered Cafe Chaiiwala Ltd under company number 13205566. Nadir is a UK national and Yaver Akbar Durrani is a Canadian national who lives in the United States.

They registered company in early 2021 and currently doing business as an active company. Café Chaiwala Arshad Khan is located in East London on 229 Ilford Lane. Yaver Akbar Durrani has claimed he owns two dozen Popeyes branches in the US through his company AR Restaurants Group. The situation is so bad that the café never opened its ground floor section to the public because of poor quality of service, insiders say.

The brand was a big hit when it opened its doors last year and Asians would come from all over the UK for Chai but the poor quality, mismanagement and lack of hygiene at the café deterred the customers.

Insiders said that Yaver Akbar Durrani and Nadir Durrani have run into a legal dispute with the owner of the building after failing to pay rent of over six months, citing business losses and complaining that that the rent is too much and should be reduced. Yaver Akbar Durrani held meetings with Arshad Khan in Islamabad and made promises to clear the pending monthly royalty but later on told him he cannot pay him until the business goes into profit.

He told Arshad Khan that too many Chai cafes have opened nearby on Ilford Lane and that has damaged his business. Arshad Khan has been trying to keep the issue private to protect his brand and Yaver Akbar Durrani has exploited this point. He has also accused Arshad Khan of not delivering the full recipes to London café as promised originally.

When opening the café last year in London, brothers Bahadur Durrani, and Yaver Akbar Durrani and Nadir Durrani announced to open several franchise “Café Chaiwala Arshad Khan” in the United Kingdom, Europe, North America, Asia, Australia and the Middle East.

A source at Arshad Khan Chaiwala said that the Pakistani national has sold international franchise to Durrani brothers but they have broken the contract and agreement by not paying royalty to Arshad Khan and continuing to use his name therefore Arshad Khan will not allow them to use the brand and franchise anymore. “Both sides have threatened legal action against each other,” said the source in Islamabad.

During the London launch, the Master Franchisees-UK had promised that Arshad Khan will visit London soon to meet his fans and to brew karak Chai for them but later on they didn’t make arrangements for his travel to the UK as the relations soured over non-payments.

Yaver Akbar Durrani, Master Franchisee-UK, said at the launch of the café: “I must congratulate Arshad Khan and my team for the joint venture in bringing Café Chai Wala Arshad Khan to the UK. We think it will be awesome. We should be able to open one unit by the end of this year and many more in the UK area.”

That promise has failed, badly.

The chai seller was 16 back in October 2016 when photographer Javeria Ali made his casual picture while he was serving Chai to a customer and she put it on her Instagram with the caption: “Hot Tea”. Arshad Khan’s striking looks, blue eyes and a haunting seriousness on his face shot him to overnight fame.

He found out that he had become a sensation when children, men and women started swamping the Dhabba where he worked to make pictures with him and soon he was all over social media, on the magazine covers and television crews started airing his story. After going viral, Arshad Khan, who is originally from a conservative Pashtun family living in Mardan, was nicknamed “Chaiwala” and that’s where the brand name comes.


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