CLEVELAND — Ayman Alkayali is an artist in every sense of the word. He has his creative hands in painting, ceramics, furniture marking and culinary arts. It wasn’t until he got a space of his own that he could do and display all of it in one place. \
“I wanted to have a place where I can have everything in the same spot and I don't have to do a show. This the place will speak for itself,“ Alkayali said.
For 20 years, Algebra Teahouse has been doing just that. Each piece of furniture and art is handmade by Alkayali, and each piece has a story.
He even made most of the mugs used to serve tea.
“I wanted to have a gallery and a teahouse, so this is not just a gallery or just a teahouse. So I’m basically forcing you to see my art and appreciating it because you're holding my mug, you're sitting on my table,“ Alkayali said.
Aside from the art, Algebra Teahouse serves up Middle Eastern food as well as teas from across the globe. This culture-infused community gathering spot is a staple in Cleveland’s diverse University Circle area.
“This is more of a community effort, and the reason we are what we are today is because of the people who come here and make it what it is,” Alkayali said.
Alkayali said of course customers appreciate his art and the food, but he believes that Algebra Teahouse has been successful through coronavirus pandemic because it is a safe space where people can have disagreements and open respectful discussions.
“This is a place for artists and religious people and politicians and professors and students to come and interact and exchange ideas," he said.