Student Biryani: The food cart that travelled the world

Published: Tue 6 Sep 2022, 3:50 PM

In just a few years, Cafe Student transformed from a food cart to a successful brand spreading across the globe. Here is how it all happened

In 1969, Haji Muhammad Ali wanted to open a restaurant in Karachi. With minimum finances, he opened a food cart, quickly becoming 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 worldwide. His story is an inspiration to entrepreneurs around the world.

Students in Karachi found a new source of great-tasting biryani, sold on the streets of Saddar. The biryani, being sold by a local food cart called Cafe Student, became a popular lunchtime spot for students looking for a quick and tasty meal. The biryani was so good that it garnered appreciation from local students, families, and singles from Karachi. Fortunately, the same biryani that took a considerable time to prepare in the household of Ali ended up being sold out by the end of lunch hour.

Experiencing this warm reception filled Ali with joy, but at the same time, he realised that he was far away from his true potential. He knew what his next step would be.

While many of us celebrate our achievements and success by treating ourselves and those around us. Ali decided the best way to celebrate would be to work towards reaching his true potential. Therefore that cart finally closed down, and a new restaurant on the same streets of Saddar emerged with the name Student Biryani.

Student Biryani quickly caught on; many people would plan and visit with their friends and family using the term 'Student ki biryani' when translated into English called 'Student's Biryani'. With years passing by, that small restaurant grew from a single shop to a multiple-story building, always crowded with people looking to have a good meal with their loved ones. Even though this dream becoming a reality was just too overwhelming for Ali, who would have thought this was just the beginning?

In 2007, Ali passed away in Karachi, Pakistan leaving Student Biryani with his sons, one of which Muhammad Arif Ali, who then decided that Student Biryani had the potential to expand not only in Pakistan but outside as well. Therefore after planning and implementing an aggressive expansion within Pakistan, Arif embarked on a journey to broaden their franchisee business in the UAE. At the same time, his other brothers, Muhammad Javed, Saleem Shahzad, and Muhammad Rashid, focused on expansion in the USA, Canada, Australia, and KSA.

Fast forward to 2022, Student Biryani now holds multiple locations in Dubai, Sharjah, and Abu Dhabi. After the aggressive expansion within the UAE, the restaurant recently launched its franchised flagship store in JVC, Dubai with the name Student Biryani Premium.

Who would have thought a simple man in pursuit of owning a restaurant in his home town would build something much bigger than he wanted?

Ali was born in 1926 and laid the grounds for Student Biryani (Formerly known as Cafe Student) in 1969. Even though he passed away in 2007, his name still lives in the present 2022. This story is the story of Student Biryani and the resilience of Ali and his food cart that travelled the world, offering a taste of home.

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