Cafe owner Preston talks about global recognition of Chaii Stop

The interior of Chaii Stop, including the now infamous black sign Pic: Instagram/Chaii Stop

A Preston cafe has gained worldwide recognition for its simple yet effective incentive to create a friendly atmosphere between worker and customer.


Chaii Stop located in Deepdale is a fairly recent addition to the city’s bustling food and drink scene. Within days, the authentic South Asian cafe sparked discussions around the world about popular expression – good manners don’t cost you anything.

The light version of the drink menu encourages people like a regular person to come out of their shells by striking up a simple conversation. The blackboard shows that if you say ‘Desi Chai’ it will cost you £5 for a cup of tea, while ‘Desi Chai please’ will cost you £3.

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The highly publicized painting
The highly publicized painting Pic: Instagram/Chaii Stop

Going a step further, saying “Hello, Desi Chai please” will get you a discounted drink at just £1.90. Desi chai is basically a thick, spicy, sweet version of your average milk tea. I recently went to the local cafe to chat with the owner over a cup of desi chai.

As soon as I entered, I was confronted with a small room which had a modern but warm atmosphere.

I went straight to the checkouts and noticed the blackboard, it was smaller than I had imagined but it caught my eye. I asked for the desi chai so as to pay the reduced price. The ordeal was quick and a reminder of how easy it is to be polite.

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Once seated, Chaii Stop owner Usman Hussain told me that the creative idea came from a screenshot he rediscovered on his phone. That of an American business owner inspired by a Frenchman, who then implemented the very rule of encouraging customers to be nice to employees.

Usman, decided to take the initiative by bringing his personal touch to it with desi chai. I asked him if he had any doubts before tossing the light hold, and the response was great as no one has paid £5 for the drink so far.

The 29-year-old said: “Since we set it up we seem to have the response that people are extremely polite and have a laugh about it and that’s literally what we want. Everyone is always in the loop. of our customer service and the friendliness they have received here.”

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“It’s one of the things I wanted to implement from the start, and it’s something I’m very strict with everyone who works here, that the level of customer service has to be very high.”

The cost of living crisis has proven difficult and difficult for many local businesses in the UK, including Chaii Stop. Although it has been a popular hotspot for families and friends since it opened earlier this year in March, the weekly increases in food prices as Usman told me were concerning, but the mouth by ear is one of the reasons for its success and recent online coverage has proven it.

A sweet meal at Chaii Stop Photo: Instagram/Chaii Stop

Usman said: ‘I work 15 hour shifts seven days a week, I have a little one that I can’t see sometimes for days because by the time I get home he’s sleeping and when I leave, he sleeps.

“To put in all that effort and then to get that recognition, it feels really good. It feels like it was worth it. It’s hard sometimes when it’s calm and you think I’ve taken the good decision with the opening?Then a story like this comes along and getting that attention is worth it, and it motivates you a little more to keep going.

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In recent years, there has been an increase in South Asian food companies. I asked Usman what makes his cafe stand out and the answer was simple – start with a small menu and really perfect each dish. This is something I became aware of while browsing the menu, looking at the food options for the breakfast, street food and dessert sections, each having a little variety.

I got to try the masala chips cooked in a rich tomato sauce sprinkled with spring onions, it was a meal that didn’t make my stomach feel empty or too full to move.

On a final note, the owner said he had been approached by many people about setting up a franchise, seeing the increased reach of the brand, although the current focus is on improving the Preston store and creating the menu. Usman said, “We’re just going to see where the journey takes us.”

I left the cafe with a box of sugar donuts which were soft and warm.

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Have you ever been to Chaii Stop? What was your experience like? Let us know in the comments below.

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