Book Review: What it takes to run a restaurant?

Restaurant-411 A Book for Restaurant Goers by Bikki Kochhar 109 pp. Self-published. $14.95 For copies, contact 412 825 6599.

If you want to know everything about opening and running a restau­rant, here is a book by Bikram Kochhar, who has seen it all. He has successfully run many “ethnic” restaurants—Indian, French, Mexican, Chinese, Thai, even fusion—for years. Known as Bikki, Kochhar partnered with people of diverse backgrounds in running these restaurants. Once, after buying a vacant restaurant, he had the gall to publicize that the restaurant would open in a week, and he did open it in time!

Kochhar (far right) with Manjit Kaur and Didar Singh during the book release. Singh, owner of Bombay Food Market, has partnered with Kochhar in the restaurant business.

Bikki is a quintessential entrepre­neur. Born and raised in India to affluent parents who were in real estate and the hospitality industry in Shimla, he visits Pittsburgh scouting how this “land of opportunity” really was. Deeply impressed with the America he saw then, he returns to India, convinces his middle class wife to leave everything—even their two kids with his parents in India—and leave for the US with him. Landing in Pittsburgh, he realizes, “I had to work for a living.” Working as a manager in a leading hotel downtown, he sees the power of the union and the media first hand. His wife, who has never worked outside before, works in a restaurant as a cook. After burning his first pay­check taking his wife to an expensive dining spot in town, they live on eggs and toast for dinner for days! That is how his life starts.

L to R: Sarita Kochhar, NFL star Franco Harris, and Bikki Kochhar .

He learned important lessons after making lots of mistakes, of course! Now in the autumn of his life, he has put all the pointers in a self-published book, taking help from his daughter Benita and grand­son Nitesh, who spent “lots of frustrating but enjoyable time” working with Bikki and on his difficult-to-read hand-written manuscript.

Even though this is a “How-To” book for the restaurant business, many pointers are useful for businesses marketing nonquantifiable prod­ucts/services to temperamental customers. And the book is an easy read with humorous quotes and anecdotes — By K S Venkataraman

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