“Serving others will help you succeed.”
The Dhaba Restaurant is part of an Indian cultural center that evolved 15 years ago. There was a strategic desire to build something that would be multicultural even though our location was not the most ideal at the time.
Most importantly, I felt that if I kept a center that was crime-free, drug-free and accident-free and brought the values of hospitality and respect to everybody, people would respond to that. After 15 years in business, we’ve not had one incident where I’ve had to call the cops. That’s because everybody who walks through the door is treated with love and respect.
My goal with the Dhaba was to create a culture of community because it’s important to give yourself to people. Serving others will help you succeed in life. I also treat my employees as my family. We are a very small business, but I choose to stay that way. We keep it small because I take care of my employees’ bills so they don’t default and can build their credit. Most of my employees are students, so I also provide cash awards if they achieve a certain grade-point average.
It hasn’t always been easy though. Our business faced a significant challenge when the light rail came. After three years of digging, we lost customers. Then, in 2008 when the recession hit, I had to find creative ways to keep my commitments, to keep the restaurant open and make employee payroll.
At the end of the day, I have always pursued my vision and not my profits. When you pursue your vision long enough, profits will follow. It’s also important not to forget our humble roots. I can sweep every day or take out the trash – it keeps me humble.