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Teressa: If I Can’t Find A Job, Why Not Create A Job For Myself

Teresa Tseng is the owner of Noori, a specialized west-coast restaurant embracing the culture of Indian and Pakistani cuisine. Noori’s modernized setting and decade-long success is testament to Tseng’s steady ambitions, providing authentic dining experiences through its diverse display of foods.

TSENG AND NOORI

Tseng always has an innate love for design, and, after spending high school in South Africa and college in the United States, she obtained her masters in Graphic Design in 2001. Graduated and job-ready, Tseng’s business endeavors were thwarted the 9/11 market crash, leaving fresh graduate Tseng with a dry job market; however, rather than stunt her job-search, Tseng turned difficulty into opportunity, telling herself, “If I can’t find a job, why not create a job for myself?” Tseng began knocking on every retail store door she could find, asking owners for their business cards and to view their stores’ websites. After looking over them, Tseng would note any improvements the sites needed and would offer the owners her design services in packages, letting the retailers choose the desired features accordingly. Tseng’s freelance graphic design work would further establish itself after working in California, where her employer would offer her a full-time job alongside a Visa sponsorship.

After working a decade with her employer, Tseng craved a change in pace, causing her and her partner to open an Indian restaurant called Noori. The task was not without its challenges, though. Not only did Tseng have limited knowledge of cooking Indian food, but Noori’s early customers and workers thought Tseng was odd for running an Indian restaurant while being Chinese, and even encountered workplace genderism with people assuming her partner to be Noori’s boss. She feels she needs to do extra work to prove her worth as a woman and win people’s respect. To bolster her cooking knowledge, Tseng practiced making every dish on the menu until wholly grasping the process, becoming a self-taught expert on Indian cuisine. Being located in a restaurant hotspot for San Francisco Bay, Tseng also dealt with the added difficulty of fierce competition. To stand out, she prioritizes making Noori the most authentic restaurant in the area. Restaurants often have slow starts as well, with Noori taking three years to be sizably profitable, making it that much more difficult to maintain customer expectation. With all of Tseng’s efforts to have good business conduct, she feels able to take pride in her food’s consistency, specifically her specially made curries. She ensures the dish’s quality taste and consistency by solely handling its preparation, only allowing chefs to follow her lead for optimal constancy.

FOOD FOR THOUGHT 

Marketing should be done in forms of advertisements, flyers, articles, YouTube videos, and Facebook & Instagram posts. Social media is crucial to the restaurant business, with Tseng adding that Google and Yelp reviews are pivotal as well. Advertising restaurants through websites and blog posts increases exposure and widens market reach. When founding a restaurant, marketing should be aggressive, with frequent social media updates listing specials and discounts.

BIRDSEYE VIEW

Tseng’s entrepreneurial journey shows that exuding grit and perseverance will eventually lead to success. Her story serves as a model example of proper business conduct in the face of adversity, making her an inspiration for any looking to involve themselves with the restaurant business. Whether it was her resilience during the job crash or her thoroughness in perfecting cuisine, Tseng always gives her and consumers her all, a work ethic any aspiring entrepreneur can learn something from.