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Exploring Life & Business with Kiki Sharma of Bhutan House Restaurant

Today we’d like to introduce you to Kiki Sharma.

Kiki, we appreciate you taking the time to share your story with us today. Where does your story begin?
I am Kiki Sharma, born and raised in Nepal in a refugee camp. I came to America with my family in 2010. Our family started a catering business partnering with Spice Kitchen Incubator in 2014 when I was still a teenager.

That experience helped us to open Bhutan House Restaurant in 2017 with the hope of providing delicious cuisine from our homeland. We serve Indian, Nepalese, & Bhutanese cuisine providing the Utah community with authentic, healthy, quality food and sharing our cultural values.

We give locals job opportunities and sponsor local events and charities, sustaining the economy of our community. I am currently attending college and working towards my bachelor’s in Business Adm/Finance. I received some special and very useful training in Small Business Adm and graduated from Goldman Sachs 10k SB program.

This is my sixth year at the restaurant. I’ve gone from helping my dad with the business to being the owner and manager. Learning the American culture and running the business have brought me many new experiences and opportunities for which I am forever very grateful. Now, I feel very confident and more conformable in my life here in America.

My hobbies include dancing, modeling, traveling, playing in the outdoors, helping others, etc. The mountains here make me feel at home in Nepal and I LOVE Spicy food! People often describe me as friendly, energetic, fair, vivacious, smart, adventurous, and determined.

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
Struggle along the way OMG.

My parents were born in the mountains of Bhutan. They farmed successfully for several generations but had to flee when the Bhutanese wanted their land. Bhutanese wanted the land from Nepali Hindus. Bhutanese Nepalese were not welcome in India and settled in refugee camps in Nepal.

We were not very welcome in Nepal either but the UN helped us. Growing up in a camp was really tough with very limited resources and opportunities but we were mostly safe and happy. UN freed us from the camp and we immigrated to the USA. Coming to the Salt Lake City culture was scary for my parents and challenging for us.

Going to school with a new language was confusing and hard but exciting. Finding a job for my parents was pretty hard due to the language barrier. Our family knew how to do the cuisine but nobody had any business experience. We are very proud of our success but we still struggle with some of the business challenges.

Owning a business is not as easy as I thought it would be, but how much the business has taught me is incredible. Little did we know that only knowing how to cook wasn’t enough to operate the restaurant, had to learn and adopt new things, new culture, and new system the hard way and some lessons were costly.

As you know, we’re big fans of Bhutan House Restaurant. For our readers who might not be as familiar what can you tell them about the brand?
Bhutan House is a family-owned and operated restaurant located at 1241 E 8600 S, Sandy, UT. Our family opened Bhutan House in 2017 with the hope of providing delicious cuisine from our homeland.

We serve Indian, Nepalese, & Bhutanese cuisine. In 2010, we came to Utah after my parents spent more than two decades in a refugee camp in Nepal. Our family of five specifically asked to be placed in Utah after hearing it was a dry, but beautiful place. The mountains make us feel like we are at home!

After four years in our new home, we began our catering business, selling Nepalese, Bhutanese, and Indian food at local farmer’s markets. In 2017, our dreams came true when we were able to purchase this location and open Bhutan House Restaurant with the help of Spice Kitchen Incubator.

Now, Bhutan House is happily family-owned and operated. We are proud to be the only restaurant in the Salt Lake Valley to offer cuisine from all three places that we have lived: India, Bhutan, and Nepal.

What sort of changes are you expecting over the next 5-10 years?
I have been exploring the possibilities of wholesaling certain Asian specialties to catering to other restaurants and grocery stores – finishing my college degree. Having my own family. Taking care of my parents.

Helping the Nepali community in Salt Lake and elsewhere. Assisting younger generations especially girls and women. Preserving Hindu values.

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