Zia and Shai Warraich want to bring the world to Colorado. In March, the new business owners opened Zari’s Grocery, a store specializing in international food and halal meat.
Located two miles east of Interstate 25 on Arapahoe Road, the 1,500-square-foot establishment carries spices, snacks, meal kits and sweets from around the globe. The beef, chicken, lamb and goats butchered in the shop are halal, that is, prepared according to Islamic dietary laws. Zari’s Grocery offers oils, paneers, yogurts and fresh produce essential for Indian, Pakistani and Middle Eastern cuisines.
“We want to bring that global home food taste here to the U.S.,” Shai Warraich told Colorado Community Media.
A year and a half ago, the couple and their 7-year-old daughter Zari, for whom the store is named, relocated to Colorado for work. The idea to open a grocery store carrying international items came soon after when they struggled to find their favorite foods in the area.
Warraich is a nurse practitioner and her husband is an information technology professional in the health care industry. The family has moved around the country for their careers, which has given them the opportunity to interact with different communities in multiple states — and the opportunity to shop at multiple international stores over the years.
In their experience, customer service, cleanliness and a wide variety of products is what elevates one grocery store over another.
Already thinking about expansion, the Warraichs would love to carry more dry goods as well as increase inventory in the butcher shop to include bison, elk and camel. But right now space is a limiting factor because the store maintains separate butchering areas for each type of meat it works with, Warraich said. Her daughter is allergic to chicken and so eliminating cross-contamination is a priority.
With backgrounds in health care, food safety protocols are important to the store owners. But so are their interactions with the public.
“Customer service is the key to everything,” Warraich said. “If your place is clean, but your customer service sucks, nobody’s gonna come to you.”
The couple runs Zari’s Grocery in addition to maintaining their corporate jobs, and they make an effort to be on the floor with their employees, leading by example.
Every customer is greeted with a friendly word and a smile, Warraich said. They stand ready to help locate items, offer recommendations, or carry purchases to older customers’ cars if needed. Warraich even consulted with a customer over FaceTime as they prepared a new-to-them dish at home with products purchased at Zari’s.
“We have other cultures that are coming in and trying our food, trying our spices,” she said. “They actually love it.”
About 60% of the products at Zari’s Grocery that can’t be found elsewhere in the area, Warraich said. Through the store’s Facebook page, she even encourages customers to share photos of packaged food they’d like the store to order.
“We cater to every community,” said Warraich, who prides herself on getting the items her customers request.
“Whatever you miss from your home? We will provide that for you here,” she said. “So you don’t miss home that much.”