How that ex-home mother constructed one of many hottest eating places in New York when she was 59

Real mothers, real money – Nasim Alikhani

Nasim Alikhani has always had a passion for food, but it wasn’t until she was 59 that she opened her first restaurant, Sofreh. With plans to open a second location and bring out a cookbook, Alikhani likes to stand as proof that age doesn’t hinder success.

As a student at Tehran University, Nasim Alikhani dreamed of becoming a judge. But when the revolution struck and schools closed, it had to reorient itself and find a new dream. In her early twenties she moved from Iran to the USA. “I came here as a student to study law and quickly realized that I didn’t have the money,” says Alikhani.

Soon the chef and restaurant owner settled in a new country with no social connections. “I knew a few Iranians, but essentially it was me and me,” Alikhani recalls. “I had to take care of myself and go to school and only work 70, 80 hours a week.” She has worked as a nanny, copy shop manager, senior caregiver, and in restaurants.

At the age of 30, she and her new husband founded their own printing company. “I made money and had a great staff,” says Alikhani. “We all connected very quickly.” But there was a problem: the young entrepreneur’s heart was out of business. “It wasn’t my passion,” she says.

And then Alikhani suffered a loss of pregnancy. “I was devastated,” she says. “I built the business [for sale] right away.”

She had thought about putting the money she’d made from the sale into another long-cherished dream: opening a small café and looking after her neighbors. “I grew up in a group of women – my mother, my aunt, my grandmother and my neighbors,” says Alikhani. “My culture is only obsessed with food. The women in my family were particularly great cooks who are still called and asked to this day [for their] Recipes. “And even though she didn’t always think about owning a restaurant, Alikhani knew that she loved cooking and feeding others.

The story goes on

But she would infuse that passion into her personal life before starting work, as she soon found out she was pregnant again – this time with twins. “After all this grief, there was no question that I was sacrificing anything. I just listened to the doctor’s orders, stayed in bed, gave birth to my babies, and became a home mom for the first time in my life. “she remembers.

It was only a matter of time before she threw herself into cooking for her family. “Every meal my children had, even when they were 3 to 4 months old, became a project,” says Alikhani. “I started making my yogurt from scratch. Bake bread from scratch every day. Even my own oatmeal flour from scratch.”

As their children got older, Alikhani became involved in their school events and after-school activities. She found new ways to host events. “Forty or 50 people – the numbers didn’t matter,” she says. “I started thinking, ‘Who are my guests? How will I feed them? And how will I prepare? How can I be a perfect host where no one sees stress on my face, even if I am.” alone how to feed 50 or 100 people sometimes? ‘It was just so exciting. “

By the time her children finished middle school, she knew that the joy of feeding a soccer or basketball team was coming to an end. She told her husband that she was going to open a restaurant and asked him to help her set it up.

Though she kept hearing how risky the restaurant business was, Alikhani knew that she could live with failure and financial loss. “What I couldn’t live with was looking back and knowing that I had the opportunity to make my dream come true, and I didn’t [go after it],” She says.

For six years, the driven mother of two children practiced in various restaurants and even completed a six-month program in the French cooking school. In 2018, at the age of 59, Alikhani opened a hot spot called Sofreh in Brooklyn, New York.

This is where the successful entrepreneur shares her best tips for being successful in business and feeling fulfilled in life.

Put money away for a rainy day

By saving, Alikhani was able to take a calculated risk and open her business. “I’ve done a lot of risky things in my life – pretty much all of my own when I came to this country to open the first print shop, and now this,” she says. “I took risks, but I took calculated risks. I always had money aside for rainy days. By rainy days, I mean what if I can’t work tomorrow and what happens to Sofreh? I already have a system that works for me can help for a while. Or maybe even permanently. “

She points to COVID as a situation no one could have seen coming, but it makes sense to recognize that certain circumstances may prevent you from working. In this case, it is worth knowing your options and putting money aside.

Don’t be afraid to start a business later

Alikhani encourages people after a certain age to stop getting involved in the tale that one cannot immerse themselves in a new business – let alone a risky one like a restaurant. Experience is a gift, indeed. “Nothing makes you crazy because you were there, you did,” Alikhani notes. “I’ve seen failure. I’ve seen success. The fame and misery pass. And you come out the other side as long as you hold out.”

Instead of losing sleep for not getting the rent like she did in her youth, Alikhani believes that her past experiences allow her to focus on knowing that tough times will pass and “tomorrow.” will good”.

Surround yourself with a support system

The proud mother and wife, who now lives a vision of success that she has developed over several decades, passionately believes that “dreams require soul searching, passion, devotion and continuous work on them”.

Given the length of this road, it’s important to have a supportive partner and team for the ride, says Alikhani. “You can’t achieve a dream on your own,” she says. Because of this, she encourages her children to think about who they are spending time with and whether they will help them achieve their dreams.

Seeing money as a tool

Try not to target money or accumulation of wealth, says Alikhani. “Money is just a tool that you can use to keep dreaming,” she says. She encourages her children to make money, save, and then go wild for a ride – from donating to charity to pursuing their passion for doing good in the world.

Appreciate all of your experiences

The New York mom credits her stay-at-home mom experience with teaching her how to run a restaurant. “People really discredit or don’t understand what goes into home life – when you have a tight schedule and have to accomplish so much – from shopping to doing the laundry to having the kids getting sick, cleaning and doing it over and over again. ” says Alikhani. “A restaurant is the same. You do the same thing over and over again. And every time you do it faster, you do it better.”

She also says that feeding her children fueled her love for catering to diners. “It has been a great experience for me to feed my children, understand their needs, and feed their friends,” Alikhani notes.

And it was important to her to feel privileged and honored to be a parent who stayed at home. “This change of perspective allows you to appreciate the complexities and daily operations of a house and then simply build on them,” says Alikhani. “A restaurant is the same. I can open the door and say, ‘Oh my god, I need to stir the onions again.’ Or: ‘Oh my god, let’s see how much faster and better I can do it today.’ “

The takeaway: “As with any challenge in life, it can destroy you or go under it with the best attitude you can have,” says Alikhani. And if you choose the latter, she believes you will be rewarded for sure.

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