Brothers' joy over Alum Rock cafe dedicated to dad who died of covid

21 August 2021

Chai Green cafe is devoted to memory of dad who set pair on the path to success before death aged 58

Many locals come into the Chai Green café to socialise over a hot cup of 'chai'. The green vibrant interior brightens the room while customers enjoy an Indian breakfast or a slice of cake. It's a scene that would make any business owner proud. But the emotions are heightened for brothers Hasnain and 20-year-old Ehsan Siddiqui because their dad - the driving force behind the venture - is not around to see it blossom.

Jamshed Siddiqui was 58 when he died in April 2020 after battling Covid 19 for 17 days. His memory is preserved with a plaque on the wall inside the cafe, whch opened in December 2019 on bustling Alum Rock Road.

'Chai' is the Indian word for 'tea' and is traditionally made with spices such as cinnamon, cardamom and cloves. 

Hasnain and Ehsan, 20, manage the café, making their father's 'dream' a reality. Things are going well and they know he would be proud. Hasnain thought about walking away from the cafe after he lost his dad but could not bear to end what was his dad's 'vision'.

Jamshed ran a floristry business for more than 15 years - giving Hasnain the 'support, backing and confidence' to grow the café.

Hasnain told BirminghamLive: "My father sourced and negotiated this location for me, so with dad not being here now, it's a very emotional and sentimental time. We wanted to dedicate the café to my dad because it was his vision and I wanted to give something back to the community, which dad would have been proud of."

Hasnain said the café was 'more than commercial' and he felt a strong sense of giving back to the community. He works with the United Nations to donate meals to poor kids around the world on a monthly basis through the 'ShareTheMeal' programme.

He said: "It's not just about us growing, but with us everyone grows too. All our employees are local so I'm proud we are helping young individuals obtain professional experience. We have received a big welcome from the community and this is just the start. It's building up the momentum for us so we can reach our full potential. We aspire to have 30 stores in the coming years."

Ehsan took a gap year from university to join his brother on the venture at the beginning of last year. He said: "I saw my brother doing this all alone and thought it was the right opportunity to help him out and remember my dad in the café. I realise how much this has meant for my father, my brothers and my family. While everyone was struck at home in lockdown, I dedicated my time to the business and learned new skills with the support of my brother. It was always my dad's dream for me to graduate, so I also want to finish my degree."

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