By Kara C. Rodriguez
Ahad and Zaara Raza are looking to bring something a little different to the downtown Leesburg beverage scene, offering consumers the perfect drink to start or end their day.
Located at 216 S. King St., in front of the King Street Station development, Goosecup is the latest entrant into the downtown dining landscape, and distinguishes itself in several important ways, Ahad Raza said.
“We lived in Austin [TX] for about eight years and I primarily worked from home and Zaara was a student. We spent an awful lot of time in coffee and cocktail establishments. We got a sense of what made places good and what made them bad. It’s been a longstanding dream of ours to bring our own touch to that concept,” he said.
In coffee shop concepts in particular, Ahad Raza said there were several gaps they identified. He points to the tenets of product, service, and design. Some coffee shops had good beverage offerings, but poorly planned out design or bad service, or the other way around.
“It was very hard to find a place that had all three,” he said. “That was our thesis. If you nail down product, design and service you’ve got the pinnacle of a really good concept.”
Also, “if you appreciate good coffee, you probably also appreciate a good cocktail,” he continued.
The Razas aimed to create a place that brought together the best of all three. It was important to have a welcoming environment that didn’t feel stuffy or pretentious, complemented by superior products and service.
When they moved back to Zaara’s hometown of Leesburg in 2018, the two began their research. It’s been about two years of planning, with the COVID-19 pandemic elongating the process a bit. But they believe downtown Leesburg is the perfect spot to launch their concept.
“There’s certainly some good coffee shops, but nothing quite like what I think we’re going to try and execute,” Ahad Raza said. “As far as coffee goes nobody outside DC has had coffee like we’ll be serving. We’re the only place roasting our own beans. Some places use the right methods but someone else’s coffee. What we wanted to do was control all of that, and have something that’s authentic.”
The Razas are effusive in praise of their general manager, Josh Henry, who comes to Leesburg by way of California. It was a fortuitous meeting, Ahad Raza said, as Henry was running two coffee shops in Nevada City, CA. He shut down his businesses during the pandemic, just as the Razas were in the market for a coffee purveyor. He moved cross country for the chance to run the roaster at Goosecup.
“The type of coffee we do is broad wave or specialty coffee. It’s a notch above what you get at Starbucks. Their thing is how sugary you can [make] it. For us it’s more about the craft and appreciation and highlighting the notes of coffee that were meant to come out,” Ahad Raza said. Goosecup will also serve beer, wine and cocktails, the latter of which may be purchased starting at 5 p.m. daily. The Razas said they are looking at eventually adding some breakfast cocktails, like mimosas, down the road, but will see what the demand is first.
Rounding out the menu will be an assortment of delectable small bites, tapas-style, that pair well with the establishment’s beverage selection, Ahad Raza said. In the morning, customers can enjoy breakfast sandwiches, granola bowls, or avocado or ricotta toast. At night the menu shifts to a raw bar element featuring beef carpaccio, meat and cheese boards, octopus carpaccio, and savory steak toast with wagyu steak, to name a few.
“Small plates with high quality ingredients but served in an unpretentious, casual way,” Zaara Raza sums it up.
Goosecup opens to the public Saturday, Jan. 30. The Razas are excited to share their new concept with local residents, and invite visitors to downtown to give them a try.
“We’re going to lead with humility,” Ahad Raza said. “We feel confident about being the best coffee and cocktail shop around. We’re going to demonstrate that through product, design and service, but we’ll let the public judge for themselves. We will always be a place that is welcoming and inviting to anyone who wants to experience Goosecup.”