Fareeha chowdhury, proprietor of Sugar Rush Cupcakery and House of Tehari, talks about her experience so far and her future plans.
After finishing her undergrad in PR and Organizational structure from the University of Maryland in 2012, Fareeha spent a whole year exploring food in Manhattan. Following her passion, on a whim she took a course on pastry techniques at the French Culinary Institute in New York City, and eventually when she moved back to Dhaka, she knew didn’t want a desk job. Although her family was already in the restaurant business, Fareeha wanted a piece for herself and decided to be her own boss on her own terms. So, with all her cards on the table, Fareeha lauched Sugar Rush Cupcakery in the April of 2013. Today, she is the proud owner of several businesses including the ever popular House of Tehari, The Kitchen studio by Sugar Rush and The Balloonery BD.
You have considerable experience as a food entrepreneur. How has your experience been so far?
I can start by saying it’s been an absolute pleasure seeing Dhaka’s food scene thrive and reach new heights before my eyes.
My experience in the past eight years has been quite a ride and I’ve learnt a bit during this time, both from my successes and failures. One of my biggest successes has been gaining and retaining a dedicated clientele for both my ventures. I’m very grateful to be trusted by big corporate brands for their bulk orders, especially for House of Tehari since it’s only a year old. Setbacks such as having to close Sugar Rush’s first pop up store after 5 months of operation in 2015 because we couldn’t handle the wastage and it wasn’t the right time, to partnering up with the wrong people for my tehari venture have taught me valuable lessons and brought me where I am today.
Sugar Rush Cupcakery and House of Tehari are two very different ventures. What inspired you to explore such diverse areas within the food industry?
Yes, both my ventures are on opposite ends of the restaurant world, with one being an upscale cake boutique specializing in all American desserts catering to a niche clientele, and the other being a fully deshi kitchen managing bulk catering and targeting the masses with affordable meals.
Sugar Rush Cupcakery was born because I love baking, and have professional certification in pastry techniques from a reputed institute. When we launched in 2013, we were one of the first online cupcake shops in Dhaka.
My journey with tehari started in 2017 as a partner of Tehari on Wheels, however that venture and partnership did not eventually work out. Nevertheless, years later, during the first COVID-19 lockdown in 2020, one of the chefs approached me, so I took a leap of faith, went ahead with it and did it my way. Thus, House of Tehari was established in September 2020.
What are the major differences in how you operate them?
Literally EVERYTHING about how I run the two ventures are different. Sugar Rush’s kitchen is cool and dry where we work based on orders only. I made it a point to hire and train mostly women for my bakery. Also, it’s a small-scale business since it caters to a niche market, so it’s easy to track sales and inventory. House of Tehari, on the other hand, runs a full on ‘Bangla kitchen’ with mostly men working behind the scenes. We run restaurant style and have to be on time with deliveries and serve the food hot; we have to keep inventory and track sales closely every day. We have two shifts for chefs, managers and even our delivery team. It’s a hot kitchen so we need to make sure things are always clean and well ventilated. The major differences between the two is that for House of Tehari, we need to risk wastage and always be available for our customers with hot fresh food, whereas for Sugar Rush the risk is lower as there is no wastage as the desserts are made to order and have a three-day shelf life. These facts dictate the differences between the operations of the two businesses.
The wedding season is almost here – are there any special offers from Sugar Rush Cupcakery and House of Tehari for the season?
Every wedding season Sugar Rush Cupcakery caters to multiple events like holuds, mehendis, bridal showers and other such parties. We specialize in desserts and leave the wedding cakes to our peers who work with fondant. Our number one priority has always been perfecting the taste, along with only working with fresh and quality ingredients. This winter, we’re planning to offer some special deals and packages for dessert tables in wedding events, complete with all types of small delectable treats – keep an eye on our socials for more information.
And as for House of Tehari, we’ve taken the leap and begun to cater kacchi biriyani. The other items on the menu such as the shorshe tehari, khichuri, roast and morog polau are already favorites for events like holuds and rong khelas, but this is our first wedding season with kacchi as an option and we’re very excited for everyone to try it. Many people don’t know this, but we have the capacity to cater large scale events starting from 200 up to 2000 people.
Where do you see yourself in the next five years? What are your plans for these ventures?
As loaded as that question is, I’ll still take a shot at trying to answer it. There are big plans on expanding and growing both my ventures coming up in the near future. We plan on opening food court style outlets along with other reputed locally grown cloud kitchen brands like Hungry Rooster & Punjab Kitchen. If all goes well, I plan on grabbing every opportunity that may come by the horns; taking smart risks and learning from my peers in the industry as I go.
I have another venture called ‘The Kitchen studio by Sugar Rush’ where I teach cooking & baking to both adults and children. We have fun classes like Halloween themed workshops, or date night pasta making. I plan on focusing a little more on that project and expanding on it. Due to the pandemic we’ve had to host lessons online, but we do also have a kitchen space where we are now taking classes in person. We’ll be offering more of it in 2022. Also, in the April of 2021, I started yet another venture called ‘The Balloonery BD’ which offers helium mylar balloon bouquets. It complements my bakery business, and is gradually growing slowly so I plan on doing more cross marketing between the two brands to get optimal traction.