By Sandhya D'Mello Khaleej Times, Dubai, United Arab Emirates
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Dubai Restaurateur Neema Suresh says she's always had a passion and love for cooking. Before it became a business for her she says she used to prepare food for family gatherings and get-togethers and people would often ask, 'where was the food ordered from?'"
I was able to witness how the story of Neema Suresh evolved.
My first encounter with her was one early morning; both of us would rush to our respective school buses to drop our kids. For me then, she was just another housewife probably saddled with endless chores and looking after kids like me. Until one fine day I saw her hurried and rushing and in that brief moment I asked: "Haven't seen you in long time; all okay?" Promptly, Neema said: "I have started my restaurant business." Her reply was enough for me to ponder and be curious to find out what would have compelled such a simple, unassuming woman to embark on an entrepreneurial journey.
Neema, 34 and a mother to two girls, is extremely low-profile and soft-spoken, yet talented and very educated. She has always been passionate about cooking, which paved the path for her decision, finally manifesting as Al Ghaar Restaurant -- Ghar Ka Swaad, near Ansar Mall in Sharjah.
Neema, a diploma holder in electronics, hails from Karnataka, India, and embarked on setting up her business with support from her brother Nitin Patil and her husband Suresh Sangannavar.
"Cooking homemade and healthy food items started immediately after my marriage in December 2008 on a foot path near Dollar's Colony in Sanjaynagar, Bangalore. I used to cook [varieties of breakfast items like special poha, upma, rice items, chapati, roti curries, etc] early morning at home; my husband used to serve these items and then would head to his routine work," she recalls.
Having served homemade cuisine on a footpath for eight months gave her enough confidence to start her take-away outlet, naming it Uttara Karnataka Foods Stores in Sanjaynagar, which is successfully operating until now, Neema adds.
Their relocation to Dubai in 2011 was natural as Neema's husband decided to take up a job in the UAE. "My passion and love for cooking didn't stop me even in Dubai. We used to prepare delicious items in family gatherings and get-togethers. People would often ask, 'where was the food ordered from?'"
Seeing that, Neema -- the ordinary woman with an extraordinary talent -- sensed an opportunity. The point was, if she can cook and be successful in a business in India, why not do it here in the UAE as well?
"That was the soft signal. We adopted a similar approach here in Dubai and Sharjah, which we followed during our initial days at Bangalore. We leased kitchens and received positive feedback/responses from our guests. We continued working like this for four years and the demand kept on increasing. We decided to open a small restaurant with our hard-earned savings."
Al Ghaar Restaurant serves authentic North Karnataka food items and targets get-togethers, birthdays, anniversaries, picnics, sports events and many more. The husband-wife team has received much applause and was awarded a Good Hygiene Practice Certificate from the Food and Hygiene Department at Sharjah Municipality within a short span of six months since the restaurant's opening -- a great signal to move on and a huge encouragement, Neema says.
She also shared what she went through to set up her venture: "Being new to the UAE's business scene, we had to find our way to set up Al Ghaar. The procedure to open the restaurant started in February 2018 and securing all the necessary permissions and licences, the kitchen started operating in August."
So how does Neema balance work and home? "It is very simple: I practice the art of time management and give equal time to both work and home. I prioritize time very carefully and ensure time doesn't slip away without any productivity," she said.
"I believe customers are the one who make you a successful entrepreneur -- and I am thankful to them," Neema concludes. --
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