I love food. Ever since I can remember I have enjoyed cooking, eating, and dining at different restaurants around the country. As a young girl I remember my father encouraging me to try all different types of food and never to judge food before giving it a taste. I even tasted braised beef tongue sandwich and discovered a new taste sensation.
Sounds interesting right? I came to the realization that it is not what food you eat, but how the food has been prepared that will make you like it, and keep you coming back for more. So I began concocting different dishes in the kitchen for my family at the age of ten. My family really encouraged me to cook different dishes.
By the age of 13 my father let me enter his world of the “restaurateur” by giving me a job at one of his restaurants (Darya Restaurant in Orange, CA). I began by prepping appetizers, but most I enjoyed socializing with the customers. Thus, my father allowed me to begin serving at 16 years old. Both my sister and I (we are identical twins) would serve at the restaurant and the customers would be so entertained because they thought I moved so quickly, until they realized there were two of us.
At 18 years old I began managing the floor staff at my father’s restaurant in Orange, and a couple days a week I would serve at his restaurant in Los Angeles (Darya Restaurant in Santa Monica, CA). My dad showed me the ropes of inventory ordering, staffing, and menu options. I was on my way of learning how to operate a restaurant.
Meanwhile, to bolster my business skills I studied Entrepreneurship at CSUF. I thrived in the creative yet practical field of Entrepreneurship where I met other like-minded students. It was comforting to find others like me who preferred not to go to work for a large corporation, but who wanted to create their own new company.
Additionally, the applied learning experience with the student consulting projects was the highlight of my studies. I actually got to consult with a small restaurant Mexican about branding and advertising; this was an exhilarating experience.
I was so enthralled with the CSUF Entrepreneurship experience that I continued my study and completed my CSUF MBA. Finally, I was ready to venture forth and create my own restaurant.
Since the start of my father’s restaurant in 1985, which was one of the 1st Persian Restaurants in Southern California, there have been many competitors who entered the market. So at the age of 26, I decided to open a Persian restaurant with a more Modern twist in Encino, CA (far from my father’s restaurants and in no way direct competition to him). I named the restaurant “Sadaf Restaurant.”
Immediately we saw a new wave of customers who enjoyed Persian food with a modern twist: no more large plates, and huge dishes of rice. We now served our meals (with the same great taste and high quality as the Darya Restaurants) in triangle, rectangular, and asymmetrical modern dishes, with a side of garlic-parsley French fries accompanied with a yogurt cucumber dipping sauce. Our signature dishes were our new kabob wraps and salads with the customers’ choice of protein. Our most popular item on the menu is our “Juicy Chicken”, and the name says it all it is extremely succulent pieces of chicken breast marinated and grilled, served with your choice of rice or salad.
Sadaf Restaurant displays flat screens on the walls, and designs of paintings of different types of seashells, which is what the name “Sadaf” means – Seashell. The restaurant has now been open for 8 months and we have already been given the name of “Home of the Juicy Chicken.” It just goes to show you, how we can prepare boring plain chicken into such a delicious dish.
My journey has just begun. Yet, with the support of my family and the great preparation at the CSUF Entrepreneurship program, I am ready for the challenge.
CSUF Entrepreneurship Graduate, 2008
Founder and Owner of “Sadaf Restaurant”