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Chez Zara sets its European style presence in downtown Detroit

Chez Zara, Owned by Mallak Beydoun, 26, opened in August 2010 with a vision to bring real espresso to downtown Detroit.

"As a coffee lover, I was very familiar with the higher quality of coffee available outside of the typical big brand names," Beydoun stated. "Why not bring that here and have the city taste something different?" she added.

The shop features drinks and pastries ranging from espressos, lattes, cappuccinos and iced coffees that set them apart from the typical Starbucks and Tim Horton's menu. What's even more unique about Chez Zara is that its espresso and beanery are imported and freshly roasted.

"We have a much higher emphasis on quality," said Aaron Beydoun, 25, who manages the location. "We use high quality products. It's all real. Real sugar, real milk, it's coffee without all the processed commercial stuff," he added.

One of their most popular drinks for example, the Nutella Latte, features a blend of the internationally known Nutella, the Italian sweet spread, which includes hazelnut and cocoa flavoring. With rich items like this on the menu, customers get a taste of what a coffee shop experience would be like in Europe.

The style of the shop is definitely a contrast to the other big name coffee chains as well. According to Beydoun, when coming up with the concept of the place she wanted to add European elements to the style.

"We wanted to incorporate a vintage 1960s Euro style setting with a contemporary Westernized twist," Beydoun stated. "Like one of those little mom and pop shops you'd find on a busy street in France," she added. 

Coming up with the idea and concept of Chez Zara they drew directly from actual experiences. Having done much traveling in the last three years, Aaron Beydoun, Mallak's younger brother, began thinking about a concept when visiting various countries across Europe. He then spent time in Columbia in 2009, where he discovered the country's fresh beanery.

The idea of Chez Zara was born, mixing the Euro style culture with actual high quality coffee imported from South America and stripping away the commercialized aspect, while making it a much more authentic experience for the customer.  

"I love the style of this place," said Sarah Ayers, who has been working at the shop for a month. "It's a unique environment that adds to the downtown Detroit culture," she added.

Reactions to the coffee shop from the locals have been superb. The shop is usually busiest in the morning right when it opens its doors at 7 a.m. as many employees from the area run in and order their usual.

"I come here to get real coffee. This is the real stuff," said James Kass, a regular customer who comes in a few times a week to get his usual, a large Mocha with three extra shots of espresso. "The staff here is very personable, you feel very welcomed," he added.

Expansion is the next step for the company. Even though the current location allows customers to grab their favorite drinks and sit down outside the shop facing Woodward Ave on nice mornings and afternoons, this location was meant to be a test run for a much grander scale location of the shop in the near future.

"Opening up this location has allowed us to perfect our model," stated Beydoun. "Now we know what works and what doesn't, and we are ready to incorporate it into our expansion," she added.

Plans to open up two more locations in the city are underway, including opening up a sit down location that will serve as the main model of the company.

The shop has also expanded by doing delivering and catering to the local businesses. Quicken Loans, which just recently moved into the city, has asked the coffee shop to open up a new location in one of their recently purchased buildings, because the coffee has been a hit with their employees.

"We created the company ourselves," Aaron Beydoun stated. "Everything from the brand name to the logo. I love conceptualizing," he added.

 Chez Zara is open Mon-Fri 7 am-5 pm and Saturdays 10 am-2 pm.

The Arab American News

New Michigan Media

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