New Pakistani eatery, Cha Tea House, opens at Tysons Corner Center today

Cha Tea House has arrived at Tysons Corner Center, intent on sharing a love not just of Pakistan’s food, but also its people and culture.

Located between &Pizza and Cava Mezze Grill, the cafe will welcome customers for the first time with a soft opening at 10 a.m. today (Friday). This is Cha Tea House’s first brick-and-mortar location after it started in October 2020 as a food truck in Springfield.

“Excited and anxious,” co-owner Sofhia Qamar said yesterday (Thursday) when asked how she felt about the impending opening. “We think we’re ready, but you’re never actually ready until you’re in business and operating.”

Some passersby had already popped in, perhaps drawn by the colorful signage and chairs on the eatery’s outdoor patio. Qamar says it’s been hard turning those visitors away, so she’s eager to be able to tell people that they’re now open and serving.

In addition to tea and coffee, the menu features burgers, chicken sandwiches, and burrito rolls wrapped in paratha, a traditional South Asian flatbread, along with various sides like samosas.

The snack and dessert offerings are more extensive than what Cha Tea House is able to provide at its Springfield location. Some items, like a paan milkshake, are being reintroduced after proving popular there but too challenging to make in a food truck.

Once the initial frenzy of opening a new tea shop subsides, the team plans to expand the menu further with salads, rice bowls, and other dishes, adding one new item each month, Qamar says.

Though a brick-and-mortar cafe can’t replicate the roadside dhabas that inspired Cha Tea House as closely as a food truck, Qamar and her fellow owners incorporated touches of their parents’ native Pakistan throughout the space.

A hall lined by flower boxes suggests “an outdoor vibe,” as Qamar put it, even though it’s inside, and the walls are decorated with paintings done by Pakistani artists and shipped over to the U.S. There is also a Cha Market in the back that will sell mugs, water bottles, and other products handcrafted by artists in Pakistan.

“We really want to kind of educate people about how amazing Pakistan is and how rich the culture is,” said Qamar, who was born in the U.S. to parents who immigrated from Pakistan. “We’re really proud of it, and we want to share that pride with other people and let them enjoy it as well.”

Cha Tea House is open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Mondays through Thursdays, 10 a.m. to midnight on Fridays, 9 a.m. to midnight on Saturdays, and 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Sundays.

The cafe is preparing to hold a bigger grand opening in January that Qamar says will include musical performances. After that, there will be musicians and other kinds of entertainment every weekend.

“We’re just really happy to be part of Tysons,” she said. “It’s a very up-and-coming area. It’s always been an up-and-coming area, but [we want] to bring a bit more diversity and introduce Pakistani food to a very, I think, adventurous group at Tysons.”

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