Shaghf Café brings popular franchise from the Middle East to Canton

Photo courtesy Shagf Cafe Canton

Farah Alqaraghuli, a pharmaceutical consultant with a University of Buffalo Pharmaceutical Sciences degree, began her entrepreneurial path by opening Shaghf Café in Canton, Michigan, with her husband, Ammar Louay. While she was a full-time remote worker, Alqaraghuli recognized the possibility presented by Michigan’s thriving café industry and felt the need for social interaction.

The enthusiasm for cafés that Alqaraghuli displayed and the influence of a friend who had started a juice bar served as a foundation for Shaghf Café. Louay had a particular place in his heart for Shaghf, which is pronounced “Sha-ghaf.” He would travel back to Iraq to try Shaghf. The idea to launch a franchise came about on its own after visiting a recently launched Shaghf Café.

They had trouble finding the ideal spot in Michigan, but after some deliberation, they decided on a plaza in Canton. With almost 80 Shaghf Cafés across the globe, Alqaraghuli’s Canton location stands out for its dedication to providing a variety of distinctive products. Shaghf Café in Canton focuses on giving customers flavors and experiences that they can’t get anywhere else in the area.

Shaghf Café in Canton is a promising new business that has already drawn interest from bloggers, influencers, and tourists from other cities in just two and a half months of operation. Throughout the first few months, Alqaraghuli and Louay’s hands-on mindset was vital in making sure that customers had a great experience.

Together with the franchisor, Shaghf Café listens to what customers have to say and adjusts to shifting trends. Flexibility in creating new recipes and modifying sweetness levels to suit the local population is made possible by the cooperative effort between the franchisor and the owners. Alqaraghuli is committed to giving Canton’s beverage lovers a distinctive and fulfilling experience, even as Shaghf Café develops and gains popularity.

Alqaraghuli discusses the financial difficulties encountered when the cafe first opened. “It’s a lot of challenges, the first being financial. I felt like we didn’t think of how expensive it would be.” Given the fact that the choice to create the cafe was spontaneous and dependent on personal funds, the actual cost was higher than expected. “So it was kind of a struggle, we got a lot of help. But we made it through,” Alqaraghuli expressed.

“Honestly, we’re very popular with our cold drinks and then comes the hot drinks. Frappuccinos really have rich flavors,” Alqaraghuli says. The frappuccinos, particularly their Pistachio Frappucchino and Shaghf Frappuchinos, are notable for their use of premium flavors and ice cream. These drinks’ originality and large assortment have led to significant sales growth. “We sold over 5000 drinks of just these two drinks,” said Alqaraghuli.

“Pistachio is like the identity of Shaghf because no one else can get it. Eighty-five percent of what we use is from Dubai and that also reflects our prices because the cost of shipping is very expensive and if we have to compensate for the quality, then it doesn’t make it Shaghf anymore. So we make sure everything’s imported from Dubai and Italy,” Alqaraghuli adds.

Shaghf Café intends to modify its hours as Ramadan draws near in accordance with the experiences of other surrounding businesses. Alqaraghuli says, “We’re very adaptable. We hope to open 12 p.m. -7 p.m. and 9 p.m. - 3 a.m. during Ramadan.” While not actively hiring at the moment, Alqaraghuli hints at potential hiring during Ramadan and the summer.

Discussing future plans, Alqaraghuli expresses, “I really want to expand by engaging in events, collaborating with public schools or private schools, and some form of catering.”

Alqaraghuli provides insightful guidance for prospective café operators, highlighting the importance of careful planning and funding. Alqaraghuli says, “You shouldn’t always be spontaneous. Like we were very spontaneous about it. I don’t regret it. But I felt like we really needed to think about it deeper and kind of weigh the pros and cons.”

Success, as Alqaraghuli precisely puts it, “You have to work really hard to make it work because if you just have a cafe and have employees, it’s not going to succeed. Like we’ve seen that ourselves,” Alqaraghuli mentions.

Shaghf Café in Canton provides a pleasant environment for students and those seeking a safe spot to gather or study. Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., and Sunday from 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m., are the hours that they are open at Shaghf Café. The most recent information is available on Instagram @shaghf_michigan_canton.