A trio of restaurant employees, each wearing an apron over a blue-gray collared shirt, stand behind a prep table in a kitchen with tiled walls. The two people on the left high-five while the man on the right looks on. The prep table is covered with empty plates, condiment bottles, and pots of greens.
Aakanksha Sinha, Owner of Spice Waala, says that one key to success is a strong team, supported by clear operational guidelines and beneficial company practices. — Getty Images/Maskot

In this edition of “Ask the Board,” we’re pleased to feature Aakanksha Sinha, Owner of Spice Waala, an Indian restaurant chain in Seattle, Washington, with a focus on social justice. Aakanksha shares tips on how restaurateurs can grow their ventures.

We started Spice Waala at a weekend market in 2018, opened our first location in 2019, second in 2021, and the third one in 2024. Here are some strategies and values that have guided our growth over the years:

Expand your offerings

Find ways to make your menu comprehensive and include items that will encourage customers to spend more at your restaurant rather than going somewhere else. At first, our fast casual restaurant had a limited menu of nine items, including four types of wraps and five snacks.

We realized that our customers were turning to other restaurants for dessert after they ate our food. To capture the audience that wanted something sweet to finish off their meals, we introduced Indian-inspired soft serve. This has increased our average ticket price.

Along with this, we also have special menu items on every major Indian and U.S. holiday, introducing customers to the diversity of Indian flavors. These special menu items help bump our average ticket size tremendously and provide us with additional profit that leads to growth.

Get creative with revenue streams

It’s important to test out various traditional and non-traditional platforms to increase your sales. At first, we were skeptical about delivery platforms, but Uber, Doordash, and other delivery services have proved to be very helpful for our business. We also expanded to catering business meetings, weddings, food festivals, and other types of events. This has helped our top line during times when cost of goods were at an all-time high.

[W]ord of mouth from loyal customers has been an immeasurable growth engine.

Aakanksha Sinha, Owner of Spice Waala

Develop a strong, reliable team

Our business is only as good as the people that work for us. Be sure to hire and train employees that are ready to hustle with you. As a growing business, you need a strong team that can keep up with the increase in sales while maintaining your food quality and culture. We have done this by creating very clear operational guidelines and developing trustworthy relationships with all our employees through our comprehensive benefits and pay packages.

Focus on customer loyalty

With new restaurants opening all the time, and with customers choosing what they want to eat three times a day, it’s essential to create a loyal customer base that will vouch for you and spread the word. These customers love your food, appreciate your business values, live in your neighborhood, or all of the above.

Over the years, we have used social media, print media, and television to spread information about the story of our business, and the ethos that guide our work. However, word of mouth from loyal customers has been an immeasurable growth engine. We have customers who have been eating our food ever since we started at the farmers market in 2018!

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

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