Alstromeria Café… a social and cultural centre

931896By Mai Al Abria — With a simple calculation, math teacher Yousuf al Abri, founder of Alstromeria Café in Al Hamra, found that it would be great to stop for a coffee break before climbing the liveliest touristic destination in Jabal Shams. Located 500 metres from the fuel station on the road leading to Jabal Shams, Alstromeria seems an ideal place for tourists to stop by.
Alstromeria Café in Al Hamra Wilayat in Al Dakhiliyah Governorate plays an important role in changing the cultural image of the wilayat being a new hub for gatherings and meetings for different age groups and genders.
The café that was opened two years back, first saw a rejection in the community as the idea is new.
The community that was based on separating genders believed that women should not set foot in that café with men, even for business meetings or other purposes. But soon, the idea changed and the café became one of the popular business or friendly meeting hubs, especially in the afternoons and evenings.
Yousuf had previously started a couple of projects that didn’t see the light. As he describes, ‘wrong planning’ was the reason of the failure. “Few years ago, I thought that a unique café in a unique location would be the perfect project since the wilayat has no such cafés. The location is close to the entrance of the wilayat and also near my house so I  can supervise the progress of the work myself”, he adds.
“After the success of the café in Al Hamra, I decided to open another branch, five months back, we opened Alstromeria at Nizwa Grand Mall, (NGM). Again, planning for the location was essential.
I noticed that the turnout of women is larger at NGM, compared to the one in Al Hamra due to the large numbers of people visiting NGM daily. I think the situation will change gradually in the wilayat as the ways of thinking will change. I have located a special area for families and women for those who would like to get some privacy”.
There are many suggestions from customers to add a special section for other sweets. However, Yousuf thinks it is not the right time for it. “Since I 931893consider ‘quality’ as the reason of our success, I postponed many suggestions regarding adding a new section for Arabic sweets because I need to recruit a skilled person to bake sweets exactly like the Levant original desserts”.
“For further marketing, we contacted some travel agencies to bring tourists to the café in their visits to the wilayat. Unfortunately, most of the agencies require a big commission that currently we can’t afford. Perhaps in the future we could strengthen cooperation for a better business”, Al Abri said.
“Starting an SME isn’t easy and requires effort, time and determination. Young entrepreneurs should not quit when facing the first obstacle because problems and failures will be many during the first years of any project. I advise all youths who are planning any start-up business to continue with insistence”, he advised.
Al Abri concluded that other branches will be opened in time. He just needs to choose the location carefully and to consider the feasibility study for each project.