In just a few years, Cafe Student has transformed from a food cart into a successful brand spreading around the world. Here’s how it all went
In 1969, Haji Muhammad Ali wanted to open a restaurant in Karachi. With a minimal budget, he opened a food cart, which quickly became a popular spot for locals looking for a quick and tasty meal. Today, Student Biryani is one of the most popular brands in Pakistan, UAE and globally. His story is an inspiration to entrepreneurs around the world.
Karachi students have found a new source of tasty biryani, sold on the streets of Saddar. The biryani, sold by a local food cart called Cafe Student, has become a popular lunchtime spot for college students looking for a quick and tasty meal. The biryani was so good that it was enjoyed by local students, families and singles in Karachi. Luckily, the same biryani that took a considerable amount of time to prepare in Ali’s house ended up being sold out by the end of lunchtime.
Experiencing this warm welcome filled Ali with joy, but at the same time, he realized he was falling short of his true potential. He knew what his next step would be.
While many of us celebrate our accomplishments and successes by treating ourselves and those around us. Ali decided the best way to celebrate would be to work towards reaching his true potential. Hence, this cart eventually closed down and a new restaurant in the same streets of Saddar came into existence by the name of Student Biryani.
Student Biryani quickly understood; many people planned and visited friends and family using the term ‘Student ki biryani’ when it was translated into English as ‘Student’s Biryani’. Over the years, this small restaurant has grown from a simple store to a multi-storey building, always crowded with people looking to have a good meal with their loved ones. Even if this dream coming true was just too overwhelming for Ali, who would have thought it was just the beginning?
In 2007, Ali died in Karachi, Pakistan, leaving student Biryani with his sons, including Muhammad Arif Ali, who then decided that student Biryani had the potential to expand not only to Pakistan, but also to the outside. Therefore, after planning and implementing an aggressive expansion into Pakistan, Arif embarked on a journey to expand his franchise business in the United Arab Emirates. At the same time, his other brothers, Muhammad Javed, Saleem Shahzad and Muhammad Rashid, focused on expanding into the United States, Canada, Australia and Saudi Arabia.
Fast forward to 2022, Student Biryani now owns multiple locations in Dubai, Sharjah and Abu Dhabi. After aggressive expansion in the United Arab Emirates, the restaurant recently launched its flagship franchise store in JVC, Dubai under the name Student Biryani Premium.
Who would have thought that a simple man wanting to own a restaurant in his hometown would build something much bigger than he wanted?
Ali was born in 1926 and laid the foundation of Student Biryani (formerly known as Cafe Student) in 1969. Even though he passed away in 2007, his name still lives on in the present 2022. This story is history of Student Biryani and the resilience of Ali and his food cart that traveled the world, offering a taste of home.