Where are you from?
What did you study in college?
I studied industrial design at Jefferson University. I've been out of school for a year now.
How did Safa Persian Teahouse come to be?
I've always thought that Persian food and Persian culture was asking to be commercialized. It's such a palatable food and if it's prepared the right way, I really think people will embrace it. There's a lot of Persian restaurants, but they're always super traditional. They kind of characterize the culture and make it almost a theme; it really isn't anything authentic. If you actually go to Iran, you won't see anything like that.
Why did you want to open Safa Persian Teahouse in the first place?
I wanted to bring Persian food and culture here. Also, I wanted it to be similar to if you walked into a tea house in Iran today. Iran, especially Tehran which is the city where my family is from, is very modern. If you walk into a tea shop in Tehran, it's going to look like it does in here. I wanted it to be authentic to how Persian culture is now, not how it was 15-20 years ago.
What makes Safa unique?
There aren't any Persian places here in Manayunk and outside of places like Los Angeles, you won't find anything that has a modern take on Persian culture. I also think people have a very dated idea of tea as well. They think tea is simply black or green and so understanding that tea can have flavor is a lot for some people.
Where do you get your tea from?
Our tea comes from multiple sources. Our main distributor is Art of Tea, which is based in Los Angeles. We also make two of our blends ourselves - Persian Rose and Saffron Herbal. The rest of our tea we get from different places because Art of Tea doesn't have everything, but we're branching out to having our own tea plants.
What are the most popular items on your menu?
As far as food goes, definitely the Persian wrap. As far as drinks, we have a saffron milkshake that is really popular.
What has been the best part since opening Safa?
The best part is honestly just meeting people. That's one of the main reasons I opened this place, because I really just wanted somewhere that is a gathering place. Also, my mom and I run this place together so it's been really nice working with her. I feel like it has strengthened our relationship a lot.
What has been the most challenging part since opening Safa?
I suppose just always thinking about Safa. We're bringing on staff, but right now my mom and I are here everyday that we are open. We go home and I'm still thinking about new menu items. I'm always thinking of how we can improve it.
I love Manayunk because...
...you don't really see too many places in Philadelphia where it's such a close-knit, welcoming community and where residents are really willing to try anything. You really get a small town vibe in a place that is filled with young, open-minded people. It's really difficult to find that anywhere else.
Visit the Manayunk Development Corporation Contact page for full contact information.
Office: 4312 Main Street, Philadelphia, PA 19127