Hassan Asif saw a need to satisfy the hunger of local college students so when a storefront on Fulton Avenue in Hempstead became available he saw an opportunity - even if at first he did not have an idea of exactly what he was going to do with it. The storefront was in a very strategic location located only a few minutes from surrounding colleges and universities like Hofstra, Adelphi, Nassau Community College, and Molloy College.
Asif, who is still a student at Adelphi University, opened Munchy’s in February. He secured financing from his parents as well as a silent partner.
We caught up with Asif to ask the 21-year-old entrepreneur some questions. See below for our Q&A.
Where did you grow up?
I was born and raised in Karachi, the largest city of Pakistan. I came to the US to pursue my bachelors and my dreams to become a successful entrepreneur.
You said you have never owned a restaurant before but did you have a mentor or someone who advised you in the process?
Yes, I have never owned a restaurant before, but finding a good network is a main skill of an entrepreneur. I had the immense help of my friend Sal, without whom this place wouldn’t be the same. He is also my working partner. We talked to many of our acquaintances who own restaurants here, as well as my business mentor, my dad.
What made you make the jump from "good idea" to reality to open the restaurant?
I had a trusted team, and my partner and my family who believed in me.
What did your family and friends think when you told them you were opening a restaurant?
Munchys wouldn’t be Munchys if it wasn’t for my family and my partner in Pakistan. My dad is a successful businessman in Pakistan, and seeing him work so hard throughout my life has motivated me to do something and make them proud. I also own a real estate business in Pakistan which is also there because of the support of my parents. I just had to tell him my plan and he trusted me just because I wanted to do it. This is how the idea became a reality!
Who developed your menu?
I made the menu by myself personally naming every item in the menu. I took ideas from various other places, and recommendations from friends and people to come out with some products of my own that is a treat to my customers' taste buds.
Hassan Asif at his restaurant. Photo: YouTube.
How did you go about finding and securing suppliers?
Finding suppliers took a whole lot of research as I had to consider them based on the quality as well as the cost. Sometimes, I had to visit suppliers and test samples, and as Munchys is 100% halal, the pool of suppliers was not that extensive.
What is the hardest thing about being a young business owner especially while still in school?
The hardest thing is to manage my time effectively as I am also doing an internship in the city. Coming up with a plan that works for every stakeholder in Munchys, even with me not being there all the time I had to focus a lot before opening. Luckily, with the help of Sal, who has been running Munchys and handling operations, we’ve been trying to bring Munchys to the best spots in the area.
Is this your long-term plan (running a restaurant) and if not, what career path do you see yourself in once you graduate?
No, restaurant ownership is not my long term plan as I have plans to enter the corporate world as well as invest heavily in the real estate business. I aim to be an entrepreneur, not a businessman. I want to positively affect the lives of people who believe in me, which includes my employees, and be a leader who has enough resources to work for the things I believe in. I aim to generate passive income streams, so that I could eventually return to Pakistan soon!
What skills have you acquired/learned in your life that you feel help you in this business venture?
This is just the beginning of a long journey and I have just started to learn real life skills. I have learned how to build a team and keep them motivated by treating them like family rather than employees. Also, most importantly, I have learned networking skills which is very important to run any successful business. It is important for myself to always have a student mentality, and I try to emphasize this with my employees too. This is the only way someone has the ability to grow.
Did you hire an ad agency to design your brand? If not, who helped you design it?
I had my friend who goes to CUNY design my brand. I just gave him an overview of how I wanted my brand to look, and his skills were exemplary as he came with the exact design and logo I wanted. I have also hired a marketing agency to increase my brand awareness.
ou can watch a short documentary about Asif and his restaurant here.