published Tuesday, August 30th, 2011

Al Quds cafe moves to capture student market

Al Quds cafe, located at Houston and Vine streets, opened three weeks ago.
Al Quds cafe, located at Houston and Vine streets, opened three weeks ago.
Photo by Jake Daniels.
426 Vine St.
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  • Name: Al Quds Cafe & Gelato
  • Location: 426 Vine St., next to University Pizza and Deli
  • Products/services: The new cafe serves a variety of coffees, snacks and sandwiches from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. during the week and on Saturday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Electric outlets and Wi-Fi are installed so students can work while they snack, and seating is situated both inside and outside. Breakfast sandwiches are available all day, as are fresh bagels, hot paninis and local coffee from Main Street bean crafter Velo Coffee Roasters. For something sweet, the store offers Gelato, a rich and creamy Italian ice cream, and cold-brewed coffee, which is stronger than normal coffee. Manager Heidi Vasterling also serves Arabic coffee and various types of tea. Customers can recline on a rich cowhide bench, held in place by stripes of decorative copper.
  • Startup investment: $55,000
  • Estimated sales: $250,000 per year
  • Target market: Owner Akram Musa hopes to attract students, professors and intellectuals who will read, study and chat.
  • Biggest hurdle: Musa had to overcome trouble with the building's old drainage system.
  • Biggest reward: Musa thrives on the presence of regular customers, and prides himself on hiring professional baristas to serve in his well-appointed cafe.
  • Challenges in the future: Keeping prices affordable for students is a challenge in the face of rising food costs nationwide.
  • Lesson learned: Musa was surprised by the cost of labor and equipment, which was five times more expensive than he estimated.
  • Five-year goal: "I would like to see this become a study spot where people want to go because we serve good coffee," he said.

-- Compiled by staff writer Ellis Smith, or 423-757-6315

about Ellis Smith...

Ellis Smith joined the Chattanooga Times Free Press in January 2010 as a business reporter. His beat includes the flooring industry, Chattem, Unum, Krystal, the automobile market, real estate and technology. Ellis is from Marietta, Ga., and has a bachelor’s degree in mass communication at the University of West Georgia. He previously worked at UTV-13 News, Carrollton, Ga., as a producer; at the The West Georgian, Carrollton, Ga., as editor; and at the Times-Georgian, Carrollton, ...

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fechancellor said...

Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Al Quds Force have helped kill many Americans and Iraqis.

The name of this cafe is offensive and reminds those who follow events in the Middle East of deadly violence.

August 30, 2011 at 7:29 p.m.
dhstreip said...

From Wikipedia: "Al-Quds is the most common Arabic name for Jerusalem and is used by many cultures influenced by Islam. The word Quds is derived from the Semitic root Q-D-S, meaning 'holy.'"

Jerusalem is a central location to the Big Three world religions. It's a beautiful city. It has also been the site of violence by Americans, Christians, Jews and Muslims. I would bet that Musa named his cafe for the former.

August 31, 2011 at 9:13 a.m.
gomocs said...

The problem is "Al Qud" has multiple meanings. It is the name for Jerusalem, it is also the name of a terrorist group, and "Al Qud Day" is basically an anti-semite day. So, which does it represent? Was it smart to name it this? Maybe an similiar situation would be a restuarant with a large rebel flag on the front. Does it represent pride in southern heritage as many think, or slavery as many others think. Both groups are right. Point being, why take a potentially controversial name?

August 31, 2011 at 9:39 a.m.
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