Victoria’s high-tech wiz turns to restaurant business, mixing philanthropy and gastronomy

Published: October 4, 2013

Surinder Kumar, at his new Fort Street restaurant called Indyoga, is serving up big ideas, including some recipes inspired by his mother’s cooking. ADRIAN LAM/Times Colonist

ANDREW A. DUFFY
TIMES COLONIST 

Surinder Kumar started a high-tech firm and grew it into a global player employing hundreds of people. Now, he has his eye on repeating the feat, starting in the kitchen.

Kumar, who left as chief executive of Victoria-based Vecima Networks this year, is about to open a new Indian restaurant called Indyoga in downtown Victoria.

But Kumar is not content with simply opening an eatery. His goal is to spread his vision for a philanthropic and gastronomic endeavour that will spread around the world.

“Vecima started with one person and grew, so why not,” Kumar said.

“I want to use my success in Vecima. It has given me the financial wherewithal to do all this.” By all this, he means a vision for a massive chain of restaurants all working from the same playbook – providing a modern take on Indian food, with an emphasis on healthy eating, and using some of the profits to fund charitable endeavours around the world.

It’s big-idea thinking, but that’s what helped make Kumar a success with Vecima, which designs and manufactures products for broadband access to cable and wireless networks.

The firm recently posted a profit of $19.2 million for the 2013 fiscal year compared with $13.3 million the previous year. It also reported cash on hand of more than $31 million.

“I have lots of interests, ” Kumar said.

“I could have gone another way, but the concept of leveraging the money to help both North America [by promoting healthier eating] and other people in the world [through

the charitable giving] is kind of what’s driving me.”

Kumar said the new restaurant is also creating jobs.

“I hope this becomes a big operation.”

He said he has even teased his son, Sumit, who succeeded him as chief executive officer at Vecima, that the new venture could grow to the point he might be tempted to come and work for his father again.

Kumar wants to expand soon, though he will spend a few months seeing how the concept is working in the flagship Victoria restaurant.

Kumar suggests that initially half of the profits from Indyoga will be used to fund expansion of his new concept in cities around North America – all of the restaurants will be company owned, with local managers. Other profits will provide a consistent and steady flow of money to charities.

That philanthropic bent has always been part of Kumar’s makeup.

For years he has combined two of his passions, philanthropy and food, by putting on Indian feasts to raise money for various charities.

In 2011, he aimed to raise $10,000 for Horn of Africa Famine Relief through Save the Children Canada with a multi-course Indian dinner for 200.

And he did the cooking. The new restaurant is an extension of that endeavour, he said.

“And it’s a way to honour my mom in a way,” he said, noting he learned to cook by watching her and marvelling at her ability to squeeze a lot out of a small budget.

“I saw how ingenious she was, what she could do with very little money to feed a large family [with eight children].”

Indyoga will offer traditional dishes, Indian fusion items and some recipes inspired by his mother’s cooking that Kumar has tweaked and experimented with over the years.

Kumar has written out the recipes, designed the dishes and broken down the concept for the 15 staff who will start at the restaurant. He even trained the cooks at his kitchen in his home.

But Kumar said he will be found only occasionally “playing” in Indyoga’s large kitchen.

The restaurant, which will seat 60 people, has a simple, modern design with Indian flair.

The space was gutted after Kumar bought the two-storey building at 1015 Fort St.

He completely refitted it for the restaurant.

There is also a completely renovated space on the second floor that could be used to expand the restaurant or leased out.

“You know the more we do with this, the more I believe in the concept,” Kumar said, as the finishing touches were being put on the seating area Thursday.

“I’m not nervous or worried just excited.”

Finishing touches are also needed in the kitchen and washrooms, but Indyoga is expected to be open for lunch and dinner sometime next week.

aduffy@timescolonist.com


Tags: , , , , , , , , ,





Featured

Abbotsford's Ravinder Singh Atwal has been identified online as the truck driver who died in a truck crash on Highway 99 near Delta on Wednesday. The Abbotsford father was killed when his dump truck hit the highway median and burst into flames. Submitted photo/Facebook.

Abbotsford trucker killed on Hwy 99 remembered as ‘one of the nicest guys’

GLENDA LUYMES VANCOUVER DESI An Abbotsford father killed in a fiery crash on Highway 99 is being remembered as hard-working and friendly by fellow truck…
Continue Reading »

A man reads the latest issue of French weekly newspaper Charlie Hebdo bearing a cartoon of Prophet Mohammed at a French bookseller in Abidjan on January 19, 2015. SIA KAMBOU/AFP/Getty Images

Mumbai police arrest newspaper editor for reprinting Charlie Hebdo cartoon

VANCOUVER DESI Mumbai police have arrested and since bailed out the editor of an Urdu language newspaper for reprinting a Charlie Hebdo cartoon of the…
Continue Reading »

Indian spectators watch as a float carrying a sign that reads "Congratulations! It's a Baby Girl" passes by during the Indian Republic Day parade in New Delhi on January 26, 2015. The float represented India's Ministry of Women and Child Development.  An estimated 26 million babies are born anually in India, a country considered to be one of the worst places to be born a girl because of a societal 'gender gap' that favours boys and preferences for male children. ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP/Getty Images

Father in India arrested for attempted murder after trying to bury his daughter alive

VANCOUVER DESI A father in India has been arrested for attempted murder after he tried to bury his 10-year-old daughter alive, according to Britain’s Daily…
Continue Reading »

LOCAL NEWS

Abbotsford's Ravinder Singh Atwal has been identified online as the truck driver who died in a truck crash on Highway 99 near Delta on Wednesday. The Abbotsford father was killed when his dump truck hit the highway median and burst into flames. Submitted photo/Facebook.

Abbotsford trucker killed on Hwy 99 remembered as ‘one of the nicest guys’

GLENDA LUYMES VANCOUVER DESI An Abbotsford father killed in a fiery crash on Highway 99 is being remembered as hard-working and friendly by fellow truck…
Continue Reading »

Opposition Muted to Harper’s New Anti Terror Bill

BY Ujjal Dosanjh Special to Vancouver Province I smell an election coming. Not in October 2015; much sooner than that. Harper has just unveiled the…
Continue Reading »

Opposition parties treading carefully on new anti-terror legislation

By Stephanie Levitz THE CANADIAN PRESS OTTAWA — Anti-terrorism legislation introduced by the Conservative government Friday received a cautious reception by the opposition parties who…
Continue Reading »

Don't Miss...

Vancouver-BC

Raise your hand, send us a selfie and make a statement against racism (with video)

VANCOUVER DESI Vancouver Desi’s digital anti-racism campaign, Raise Your Hands Against Racism, officially kicked off Thursday, with people across the Lower Mainland sending in selfies…
Continue Reading »

File photo: Curry chicken on rice. Sam Leung/PNG

Spicy treats on menu as 8 chef teams battle for Vancouver’s second-annual Curry Cup

VANCOUVER DESI A group of Lower Mainland chefs are set to go head-to-head with their South Asian cooking skills as they gear up for Vancouver’s…
Continue Reading »

Shah Rukh Khan, Abhishek Bachchan, Deepika Padukone, Sonu Sood and Boman Irani in a still from the Bollywood film Happy New Year.

Indian expat avoids stalking conviction by blaming Bollywood for his behaviour

IANS Sydney  – An Indian man’s excuse that Bollywood love stories encouraged him to excessively approach and stalk women helped him avoid conviction in the…
Continue Reading »

File photo: Commuters hang by doors of a crowded local train in Mumbai, India, Tuesday, July 8, 2014. Three men were killed on Monday after they attempted to take a selfie by a moving train near Agra. AP Photo/Rajanish Kakade

College students killed while attempting train selfie in India

VANCOUVER DESI Three college friends on their way to India’s Republic Day celebrations were killed by a speeding train after they tried posing for a…
Continue Reading »

Screen shot of Shah Rukh Khan's first video tweet. Submitted.

Shah Rukh Khan sends out India’s first tweet using Twitter’s new mobile video camera

VANCOUVER DESI Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan was the first-ever Indian to use Twitter’s freshly launched mobile video camera. Twitter announced the new feature on…
Continue Reading »


Bollywood Latest

Akshay Kumar

Askhay Kumar offers martial arts training to visually impaired girls

PRASHANT SINGH HINDUSTAN TIMES Last year, Akshay Kumar — who was a professional martial arts trainer before he started acting — launched an initiative to…
Continue Reading »

Shah Rukh Khan (L) and Kajol (R) are rumoured to be appearing in the next Rohit Shetty film. Getty Images.

Rohit Shetty tightlipped on SRK, Kajol casting rumours

IANS Mumbai — Bollywood’s blockbuster director Rohit Shetty is remaining tightlipped on rumours he’s managed to rope in a casting coup of Shah Rukh Khan…
Continue Reading »

Bollywood sex

Sonam Kapoor never planned to use her father’s fame to jumpstart her Bollywood career

IANS Mumbai  – It’s always thought that Bollywood’s star children have it easy, but actress Sonam Kapoor says that at the start of her film…
Continue Reading »