Umer Hussain on Promoting a Food Business

We talked to Umer Hussain, Founder of Sweet tooth about his ventures ‘Shahi Baithak’ and ‘Sweet Tooth’ and here is what he had to say about what he wants to achieve through these ventures:

Tell us about your ventures ‘Shahi Baithak’ and ‘Sweet Tooth’.

Shahi Baithak is located in the Old restored Shahi Hamam, awarded Pakistan’s best-restored heritage site. Sweettooth has been more about spreading smiles, through ice-cream – located in Lahore at MM Alam, DHA, DHA Phase 6 and Heera Mandi, on the way to the North, at Mushkpuri, near Nathiagali, Murree Expressway; two outlets in Hunza at Karimabad and Lake Attabad to name a few. ‘Shahi Baithak’ is in the hub of the rich cultural heritage of Lahore and it operates in a unique way while sustaining the community.

How did you come up with the idea?

Since it is the best restored heritage monument, anything less than the best wouldn’t do justice to it, I felt the need that people need a little more attraction to come and explore their own heritage. Most of us don’t even know of the great foods of Lahore, so it is an attempt to return Lahore to its glory. For your restaurants, the location is key.

How do you pick these locations?

The idea is, whenever someone Googles Pakistan, all the places that show up, is where I want to see my brands.

You’ve opened another outlet in the Old City of Lahore. Tell us about the kind of vibe you’re trying to create and what the unique offering would be.

Yes, Sweettooth Heera Mandi, a name we are too shy to take. It has the most picturesque view – Badshahi Mosque, Minar-e- Pakistan, and Lahore Qila. So, now I cover all the monuments of Lahore. The Idea is we were rich in culture; goras invaded us, destroyed our culture and left us confused. What would have happened, if we invaded the west? What would our impact be on them? For food we have a fusion of our Pakistani food, into the food of the west.

What are the aspects you believe are unique in your restaurants’ branding?

Everything, from food to art, vision, we don’t do things the way people do – we’re unique in our own way!

How did you know you wanted to get into the food business?

I joined a cookery club in class 3, which my mom switched to Martial arts. I never knew I was destined for it. It was tough getting from industry into food. It was an experiment and it opened a whole world to me.

What are the things you like the most about being in the food business?

The happiness good food brings, satisfied customers, the joy of watching them dance when locating Sweetooth at the most surreal places.

What challenges did you have to face and how did you overcome them?

Challenges are always there, first challenge is coming from textile industry, it is a whole different ball game, My family really doesn’t like me being busy when the whole world is vacationing. The only solution to all these problems is, you have to love your work and you will just glide through all the hurdles with a smile.

5 tips you would like to give to aspiring food entrepreneurs. 
1- Leave your egos aside
2- Customer is not just right, they are the reason you exist, so be courteous
3- Stop copying and be original, you may be better than the rest
4- Don’t get into it if you can’t get your hands dirty
5- It’s about being consistent – be hopeful, learn, and build on from experiences

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