LUMS Graduate Gulraiz Khan Wins Top Prize at Shell Awards
“The idea of a tea house was a personal whim. I’m a tea person and it was something close to home. Also, Karachi is a city which has a history of tea houses, so there is that nostalgic feeling too,” explains Gulraiz, Khan, a graduate of the LUMS BSc (Honours) programme, and owner of the Samovar Tea and Coffee House in Karachi.
Gulraiz took the top prize in the Shell Tameer Awards 2012 held on Friday, 16 March, 2012 at the Shell House in Karachi. The awards recognise young entrepreneurs and their succeSBASSEs. Ten finalists were chosen from among the thousand entries from all over Pakistan.
Samovar Tea and Coffee House, located at Port Grand, opened for business in June 2011. Specialising in masala chai, the tea house offers a variety of tea blends, including the traditional doodh patti. Customers can enjoy samosas, cakes, cookies and more with their cups of tea.
“I had wanted to set up a tea house ever since I was a student at LUMS,” says Gulraiz. “A friend of mine, Matthias Gattermeier, was visiting from Vienna in 2009 and I shared my idea with him. He provided the initial funding for this project.”
Gulraiz described some of the challenges he faced during the time he was setting up Samovar. “It was quite difficult initially, as I had never had any experience of setting up a food related establishment. Finding the right location was one particular challenge, since markets are very segregated. It was a happy coincidence that Samovar Tea and Coffee House ended up at Port Grand. I got a good deal as far as rent of the location went, so that helped in reducing the risk factor, as you really don’t know how well you will do,” explains Gulraiz. The café can be found at the end of the original Native Jetty bridge at Port Grand, which is a popular food street in the city.
“There were other difficult decisions to make before the tea house opened. For example, what products would we offer; how much would people be willing to pay for a cup of tea; what sizes should tea and coffee be sold in and so on. It takes time to develop distinctive products and for recipes to be perfected. The whole process took several months,” shares Gulraiz.
Initially the Samovar Tea House was supposed to be just a stall with the option to take away beverages and food items. “Ten days before the opening, the owner of Port Grand, told me I could have a seating area as well. So then I had to hurry and get some furniture before the opening!” grins Gulraiz.
“I applied for the Shell Tameer Awards in December. Winning the first prize at the Awards has added a lot of value and provided valuable media coverage for Samovar,” says Gulraiz. “Samovar Tea and Coffee House has its own unique character. All kinds of people visit us including students, business executives, politicians and artists,” says the young entrepreneur. Gulraiz hopes to expand his establishment and open at a second location in a year or so.
Photo courtesy: Port Grand