Born in 1945 in a remote Indian village into a farm family, Mafat Patel was the eldest of six siblings and had very humble beginnings. Today, Mafat Patel and his brother, Tulsi Patel, known as the “Patel Brothers,” have built a multi-million dollar empire that is giving Americans a taste of Indian culture, but as viewers will learn on the season finale of Those Who Made It, airing on ZEE TV this Saturday, the Patel family owes their success to the perseverance, hard work and dedication of five generations. It was this commitment to tradition and hard work that marked their beginning.
After studying engineering in India, Patel was faced with a difficult decision. Despite his mother’s initial opposition, he moved to the United States in pursuit of the “American Dream.” Armed with two degrees – one in mechanical engineering and one electrical engineering – Patel’s family gave him their blessing to relocate to a foreign country, where the opportunities were more promising and abundant.
Following a brief stint in Ohio, Patel would move to Chicago – a city known for its violence, even today. Life in Chicago was not all that Patel hoped for. While Patel had a good job, on the season finale of Those Who Made It, he tells ZEE TV that there was something missing – the comfort of a home cooked Indian meal. During this time, the options for diverse cuisine were extremely limited – especially Indian and vegetarian options.
In 1971, Patel’s wife and three children joined him in the United States. Three years later, his brother Tusli would join him. After years of working in factory assembly lines throughout the city of Chicago, opportunity came knocking when a small Indian grocery store was for sale on little known Devon Avenue. A pair of brothers and their families decided to take on this new venture and by pooling meager savings. They were able to purchase the small grocery located at 2034 W. Devon Avenue, and in September of 1974, Patel Brothers was born.
Unlike other grocery stories, the Patel brothers placed an emphasis on their service – responding to even the smallest customer inquiries. Their dedication to customer service would set their business apart. Although at the time there were not many Indians immigrating to the United States, Mafat Patel and his brother knew that in the coming years, there would be a growing influx of Indians arriving in America and living coast to coast.
While still working in engineering, Patel decided to focus his energy on growing his business, recognizing the big potential of his niche business venture.After several years of hard work and success, the dynamic Patel duo decided to take the plunge and gave everything they had to building a national brand.
Taking it one store at a time, the Patel brothers now have 55 nationwide locations and this number continues to grow. Despite his success, viewers learn that Patel lives a simple life. Sticking true to his values, even after reaching his level of success, Patel’s employees have often spotted him chatting with customers – a rare trait for an already accomplished and successful CEO.
Over the years, the Patels have helped provide employment to more than 300 Indian families nationwide. On the season finale of Those Who Made It, viewers will learn that the Patel brothers credit their family with successful expansion of their stores, employing many members of their large, extended family. With this family spirit in mind, Mafat Patel would eventually pass the torch to his two sons, who helped bring pre-packaged Indian food to grocery store shelves, continuing their father’s legacy.
With his success, Patel has never forgotten his modest beginnings. Those who know him describe his as a generous man who will never turn away a person in need. In 2001, an earthquake devastated Gujarat in India. With the help of friends, they helped to rehabilitate the areas that were destroyed, building 160 houses, two temples and a school.
Mafat Patel also established a burn care center in Ahmedabad’s L G Hospital under the aegis of the Samvedana Foundation, a trust founded by him. With his help, Patel brought state-of-the-art technology that has saved the lives of critical patients. Patel also organizes eye care camps regularly. In one such camp organized at Sabarmati Jail, more than 4000 prisoners benefitted from eyes check-ups.
Today, the Patel family is legendary for spreading the love of Indian food in the U.S. – not just to Indian immigrants, but also to Americans, who continue to embrace the increasingly popular cuisine. It is their customer-centric and family-oriented business structure that has paved the way for Mafat Patel, who in-turn, has given back the world through his several philanthropic initiatives.
To watch previous episodes of Those Who Made It, visit http://www.india.com/americas/those-who-made-it-episode-2-2554671/
For more information about ZEE TV’s Those Who Made it, visit http://www.zeetvusa.com/zeetv/videos/coming-soon-to-zee-tv-those-who-made-it-1.html.