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As a single mother of a 9 year old daughter and running a restaurant, I really have no time to spare most days.  The days are rushed with making breakfast and packing a healthy lunch for my daughter.  Every morning I try to wake up at an “early” time so I can have some breathing time before we have to run and catch the school bus.  However, snoozing the alarm usually 2-3 times is the norm rather than the exception.   Knowing the track record, one would think I would get it and set it at the “real” time I get up.  At least I pride myself on being postive and hoping that this might be the day I get up at the early time.  As soon as I drop off my daughter, I rush to work with a pile of to do lists that hasn’t usually been completed from the week before.  I start returning the phone calls, writing the emails, opening up bills, checking balances, verifying sales from the previous night, as well as trying to juggle the constant interruption of vendors, the kitchen staff, additional supplies needed, and making sure the restaurant is running properly!   Did I say I tried to take a deep breath between some of these demands on me….?  Well, the key word is I “try” to!  Some days are completely so hectic such as a health department surprise visit.  Yes, it is usually definitely a surprise…perhaps not a much anticipated but nonetheless a surprise.  If the kitchen equipment is operating smoothly and we have no minor difficulties such as a leaky cooler, faucet that isn’t running correctly, or a deep fryer that is frying at an incorrect temperature, I’m happy. 

Time to pick up my daughter…how did the day run by so quickly?  Its funny some days I run out the door and barely have eaten anything, but have to remind myself I own a restaurant!  Well, from there the day just vanishes.  After school snack, soccer, homework, dinner prep, reading, and finally time for bed and my time begins to get things finished from the day on the computer and around the house.  After an exhausting schedule how does a person manage to fit anything else in it?  The struggles I run into are trying to eat and shop healthy, making sure excercise is a regular part of the day, and raising a well adjusted child while simultaneously keeping my sanity and my business alive.  Any suggestions on how to make the day longer??? 

I wish that were the case, however as we know living in such a fast paced and technologically reliant society that we must do what is necessary to keep the pace.  For me, the key has been reading spiritually based books and surrounding myself with constant messages of love, strength, and faith.  Most people close to me know I have not watched a tv show in years, and spend my time reading books that allow me to lose the craziness of the day.  These concepts of visualization, postive thoughts, and reaching out to help others keeps the fire inside of me going strong each morning.  Its what allows me to have the energy to keep dreaming and building, yet also genuinely care for others.  Meditation has also been huge for me over the years and I feel very content these days.  It has allowed me to bridge that gap between work and life and feel at peace.  May all of you find that inner beauty and strength to go beyond the fast paced lives we lead and be able to utilize it and experience the richness that surrounds us all!


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Many people these days are struggling financially and across all industries layoffs and cuts are being seen.  As we enter into this new year with a new President, anticipation is high, along with restlesness and unease in every corner of the country.  People are working harder, longer hours, anything to ensure a stream of revenue coming in.  Employers are looking for employees who are dedicated, responsible, reliable, and willing to be a team player.  Downsizing has been a consistent theme heard all across companies in the past several months and it may be only a sign of the times.  It is not only affecting entry level positions, but also manager and directors as well.  One of the key components of times such as these is to have a passion for your work.  How else can one imagine performing duties and delivering excellence without being overwhelmed or burned out? 

Passion.  It is what wins the big games.  Its what is needed to persevere, to triumph, to push to the next level and be successful.  Passion.  Without it life is empty and not worth the struggles.  Cooking food and serving it with love has always been a passion of my mom.  She is one of the most dedicated women that I know.  In addition to raising her family, working two jobs, with minimal English skills, my mom managed to pursue her dream and open up a restaurant with her amazing cooking!  Almost eight years ago now my mom, opened up a vegetarian bakery/restaurant.  She was the only cook and her excellent entrees and sweets sustained this place for years and attracted fans from all over the state.  To this day people still come in and ask for “Auntiji” and want to meet the women that put Punjab Sweets on the map. 

Passion.  Thats what builds dreams and fuels them to the finish line.  Its what differentiates winners from losers and makes a name and brand.  Its what sustains people in adversity and down times.  So, go out there and pursue your passion and make it happen!

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  The New Year has already approached, and many questions have arisen in my mind for formulating my marketing goals for this year.  How do I market an ethnic restaurant in a region that is extremely diverse in population yet hasn’t grasped the concept of “real authentic” food?  In a society where everything is frozen, plastic, drive-thru, pre-prepared, or microwaved, the idea that food is actually cooked from scratch and cooked with love is foreign to many.  The question that quickly pops up is who really has time to cook food especially with so many gadgets that take up the majority of peoples lives? 

Authentic food is hard to sell sometimes because the lure of fast food places and chains attracts people by name recognition.  Most people don’t venture into cuisines that are foreign to them or do not have an “Americanized”  feel or flavor to it.  Perhaps its comfort level and being able to identify with the food that is served. 

The downside of having a dining establishment in a small town that has a metropolitan flair is that its not as appreciated by the local clientele.  Many of these suburban locations such as Kent boast a large minority population and many ethnic restaurants that mirror the community.  However, the sad part is that most of the ethnic restaurants are frequented by their own ethnicity.  What an attraction it would be if ethnic restaurants and authentic ones at that could be a destination for customers in small towns as well?  Kent has a strip of restaurants and businesses that run down 104th in the East Hill region that could be designated as an “International District”. 

How wonderful it would be to have a real international district that offered real food and services for real people?  The concept is amazing and would prove to be a draw for many outlying regions in the area.  This would definitely place a spotlight on the region and most importantly draw attention to the hard working ethnic businesses and restaurants that strive to bring fresh, authentic food to customers.  Food that is made from real vegetables and straight from the farms.  Food that actually has nutritional value and prepared with a mother’s touch.  If more places could offer food that listed the first ingredient as love, wouldn’t our society be a more loving place?  Stay tuned for the International District concept in Kent…

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So, last week I was out with some friends and we went to a well known steak house.  As a vegan, I was stuck with the dilemma of trying to figure out a menu that would suffice my dietary needs.  I have only been vegan for a couple of years now but let me tell you it always becomes a hot topic.  As everyone was ready to order a big piece of steak with their loaded baked potatoes, I was stuck with what vegetables to boil and what dressing or condiments I could add to my salad and baked potato.  As I ordered the veggies and plain salad, I was thinking how great it could be to have more vegetarian and vegan options at restaurants.  Even better with such a growth in vegans, a strictly vegetarian restaurant such as ours, Punjab Sweets, would fare very well these days. 

Lately, because of the lack of options at most restaurants many times I’ve had to resort to eating french fries, which in the long run doesn’t bode well for the waist nor is it a healthy option.  My reasons for going vegan are a mix of choice and necessity.  I consciously chose to avoid meat products however, I was diagnosed of a dairy allergy several years ago.  This one finding put a quick halt on my love for shakes, cheese quesadillas, pizzas, and many of the succulent Indian sweets I used to love to gorge on.  (Note that I USED to….which is all but a memory now 😦  ).  

I have learned that lentils, beans, legumes, tofu, different nuts, and breads are a great alternative to meats and protein.  At least if you have fresh, healthy options then the lack of dairy isn’t as noticeable.  Consuming many of these alternative options is a great way to try other foods and cuisines!  Lentils soup is very tasty when it is cooked under a low heat for awhile and simmered and the right Indian spices are added to the soup.  Lately I have been really hooked on tofu cooked Indian style and sauteed with lots of garlic, ginger, onions, and fresh ground Indian spices (garam masala).  I definitely think people would eat more tofu if they knew how to cook it with lots of flavor and seasoning, because I hear people complain about the bland taste of tofu all the time.  Personally, I don’t think I could swallow a bite of plain uncooked tofu myself!

Next time you are out in a restaurant and as a vegetarian or vegan have few options then think of any dishes that I have mentioned.  Ask the waiter if they can substitute items in the meal and allow you to have a meal that you are happy with and is diet friendly.  Good luck and let me know what are your favorite dishes at non-vegetarian restaurants or how restaurants have accomodated you in the past….

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Here I am finally blogging away today.  My friend, Sharon, who just happens to be a marketing maven and blogging specialist has been on my case for months to start blogging.   As a small business owner I find it difficult to carve out blogging time in addition to everything else I manage.   Anyhow, as we just finished with our busiest time of the year at Punjab Sweets with our Diwali festival last week, I realize how much more awareness people could have gained by their knowledge of this Indian holiday. 

Diwali is an Indian holiday where all religions in the country have their various celebrations, but it is most commonly referred to as the “Festival of Lights”.  There are significant events that occurred for the Hindu, Sikh, and Jain religion on this day.   It is celebrated by lighting diyas which are small clay pots filled with oil and a cotton string as a sign of good over evil and light pervading darkness.  We celebrate by putting on lights around our homes, businesses, dressing in our decorative traditional Indian clothes, and giving each other boxes of Indian sweets.   It’s a colorful celebration as well as very exciting for all of us and considered to be a great time to start new businesses and other ventures as well. 

We had been busy for weeks preparing the special sweets for Diwali and it was quite a sight to see as the entire store here at Punjab Sweets was filled with trays and trays of sweets.  Boxes were adorned in the front on the tables and the lines get to be so long that the customers actually get to choose their own sweets and box it themselves!  After a crazy week last week we are just settling into a normal work week here and ready for the next holiday to come!  Ahhhh….this piece of burfi is soooo good….. 🙂 

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