You should meet Kaushik Guha. The man not only loves food, but also loves his job as the purveyor of fast, casual Indian eats at Hakka Bakka. Kaushik’s Kati wraps are a Yelper favorite in Chicago and we chatted with him about why he started doing this, why he loves Chicago, and why doing what you love is the most important thing you can do.
Why did you decide to start your business? Tell us your backstory!
I was working as an Applied Economic Consultant for eight years before starting my restaurant. Most of my clients were in the food silo. It was during this time that I noticed a void in Indian fast casual offerings. Also while working in downtown Chicago, I realized the same thing. Most people working in Downtown avoided Indian food for lunch because of the dreaded “Indian Food Coma.” So my wife Swetha and I decided to change that. We wanted to introduce a concept that was fresh and light, very much like what Indian food back home is like. As such, we started Hakka Bakka to share the fresh flavors that we were accustomed to when we grew up in India. So one fine day, I quit my job, joined a culinary program at Kendall College and two years later started Hakka Bakka.
Why do you love doing business here in Chicago?
Recently, Conde Nast Traveler named Chicago as the Food Capital of the US. Need I say more?
What’s the most helpful piece of customer feedback you’ve received?
Neither Sweta nor I have a background in Food Service. This makes customer feedback essential for us. Every bit of feedback is important for us whether they say the portion sizes are too much or one of our recipes is too spicy. We comb through our Yelp reviews on a regular basis to figure out where we can improve. Each and every suggestion is carefully considered, no matter what it may be.
What’s your advice for other business owners or someone who wants to start a small business?
Know what you are getting into! In this social media age, all we get to see regarding small business is the glory and success. We hardly see what the sacrifices that the owners made to get those businesses in that position. That’s dangerous because a lot of aspiring entrepreneurs are focusing on the prize and not on the means to get there. They underestimate the amount of work required. Simply put, do what you love, don’t get burnt out, and have patience.
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