Building Economic Sustainability through Tourism Project

New coffeehouse to launch in As-Salt

23 Jan 2020

Aktham’s Coffeehouse is set to break ground as a new experience in the city of As-Salt, Jordan’s first distinctive destination. In 2019, the As-Salt Development Corporation (SDC) awarded the owners a grant, through its Enterprise Development Program that is funded by USAID BEST, to support the establishment of the coffeehouse. The owners are Aktham and Abdullah Arabiyat, two brothers in their early twenties who are among the youngest business owners to be working with USAID BEST.

“We initially thought about starting a restaurant, but several have opened or been refurbished and expanded with USAID, so we wanted something different,” said Abdullah Arabiyat, the younger of the two siblings.

“The [coffeehouse] idea came after a visit to Jabal Weibdeh in Amman, where there are a lot of old buildings built in the same style as As-Salt, but also modern coffeehouses.” Aktham Arabiyat added, noting that that “As-Salt didn’t yet have a modern coffeehouse, so why not try it and see where it goes?” 

USAID BEST supported the development of the café’s brand and theme as a fusion of authentic As-Salt imagery and modern interiors. USAID BEST also supported the menu selection, furniture and equipment, and provided training for baristas and management.

“USAID has had a strong presence in As-Salt these past two years. We’re friendly with the owners of the [USAID grantees] Gherbal Restaurant and the Iskandarani Restaurant, and they suggested we reach out and enquire regarding support from the SDC and USAID.”

Nestled on the first floor of a heritage building built in 1881, the coffeehouse enjoys a scenic view of Sahet Al-Ain in downtown As-Salt as well as the surrounding mountains of the city. The coffeehouse is strategically located near the main touristic trails of As-Salt, which include Abu Jaber Museum and the bustling Hammam and Khader Streets.  

“Sahet Al-Ain is the most important location in As-Salt,” said Aktham Arabiyat “And that’s not just an opinion. Historically, the Abu Jaber Museum used to be the visitor center for the city, so traffic in the area was high, and that hasn’t changed today. In addition, the site for our coffeehouse is quite large, in a building that is well known locally and very recognizable. So, we have the visibility factor.”

The coffeehouse will launch in February 2020, creating four fulltime jobs for local youth. The coffeehouse will rely on local products and producers for its food and beverage offerings, including fruits, herbs and vegetables.