Detroit Mom’s Local Love Spotlight: Neehee’s

Detroit Mom’s Local Love series highlights local women and the businesses they have built. We love supporting small business! Today’s Local Love Spotlight belongs to Dipali Patel, one of the owners of Neehee’s!

To start, we asked Dipali to share a few fun facts about herself with us!

  • She has her Bachelors in Accounting.
  • She is a very creative person and has experience working in fashion design.
  • She is always curious about learning more, especially about marketing in regards to the business!

We asked her to share a little bit more about her business with us, too. Get to know Dipali and her business, Neehee’s, below!

How did you come up with the idea of your business, and how did you start?

“We were actually in a grocery store business and then we decided to add some snacks in our grocery store… so we started with [samosas in] that small, little corner in our grocery store. From there, we decided to move full-fledged into the restaurant business.

“My husband and my brother-in-law and his wife and I, the four of us, started this restaurant business together back in 2006… I was pregnant and my sister-in-law was also pregnant, and we both had girls. And [the meaning behind Neehee’s] is behind our girls’ names: my daughter’s name is Niyati and my sister-in-law’s daughter’s name is Heeya. Niyati means honesty and Heeya means heart… So the name was branded behind their names… in 2009.

“Customers [of the grocery store] did enjoy the snacks that we were selling… so then we decided to add a full-fledged grocery store and a food corner in one grocery store, that was in 2006 when we started the first restaurant along with [a] grocery store. And then from there, we saw that people were coming actually just to eat–not to purchase any groceries so in 2009 we decided to open Neehee’s–just itself, as a restaurant.”

Knowing what you know now, is there anything you would have done differently when you were first starting out?

“So, in the beginning it was really a struggle full-time… I was pregnant while I was working in the restaurant, so… being a woman and working in the restaurant [was difficult]. Initially we did face a lot of struggle because we did not have any restaurant skills, we [didn’t] have any restaurant background… there were some struggles finding good people, skilled people, at that time, which we were not able to find.

“We have developed the recipe[s] from scratch, so that’s something that’s very appreciated right now. So the people who have eaten at Neehee’s, let’s say back in 2009-2010, they know how we have our consistency in the restaurant. Overall we have evolved so much, in not only keeping the quality and consistency in quality, but overall the restaurant itself, we have evolved in how it was like a small restaurant–40 people sitting–to now it’s like [a] 120 [person] sitting area.

“We always believe in consistency in quality, and quality in growth. So we [didn’t] find ourselves opening a bigger place right away. We want to expand it as much as we can based on our capacity.”

What is the best business advice you’ve ever been given?

“I think the best advice I would say is ‘serving happiness.’ That’s our tagline of the business. It’s like our internal mantra we have here at Neehee’s. We share what makes us happy… what we have found is if you can provide a product that serves happiness to your customers, you’re giving good customer service along with your good-quality products. So ‘serving happiness’ is something that we have gotten advice for–good customer service. And that’s what I would really pass on. People used to come to see us because we were the face of Neehee’s… they’ve known us from the beginning. So giving a good customer service brings your customers again and again.”

Have you faced adversity in business due to being a woman? How did you navigate that?

“No, not really. I mean, there might be one or two but I don’t really feel [like it] because our business has 75% of women working in our restaurants… and there is no language barrier in our restaurant. If [an employee has] difficultly following our manual, we try to help them out and translate our manual in their language to provide them [with] a good workspace.”

How do you persevere in challenging times?

“Being authentic to what you have, stick with your gut, [and] what you have come far for. If you stick with that in your difficult time, stick with your gut that yes, this will be over soon.”

What impact do you want your business to have?

“We want to see Neehee’s in every other state, almost. Our goal is to expand slowly from [the] midwest all the way to Dallas. That’s the goal, at least: 50 Neehee’s in 50 states… We are a part of our community. We are supporting our community in temples, and some other places… We believe in supporting our community and we are heavily into support for our community… ‘Serving happiness.’ That’s our tagline of the business.”

What are the pros and cons of being a woman business owner in 2024?

“We have my husband and my brother-in-law, me and my sister-in-law. We work together very well… My kids did not go to daycare, so we were growing the business at the same time my kids were growing, or my sister-in-law’s kids were growing. So that is something that I have never found challenging in my particular career… We also live together [which] I guess could be the reason we did not find that challenging, because we had enough support to raise our kids, to raise our business and our kids at the same time because we had each other’s back.”

What knowledge would you share with someone who wants to become an entrepreneur?

“I would encourage [to] follow your dreams. I would definitely encourage any woman who’d like to pursue their business: follow your dreams. We women underestimate ourselves a lot. And I would say just go for it!

What do you do for personal and professional development?

“I’m a learner. So I… watch a lot of YouTube videos, I do a lot of experimental things myself and learn from my own experience.”

What mantra or quote do you live by?

“Follow your dreams, and do what makes you happy. Our mantra, and our goal, and our internal mantra you could say, you’ll see a lot of things about happiness. So do what makes you happy!”

What’s your favorite place in Detroit or Michigan?

“Ann Arbor is very cozy!”

Where can our readers find you on social media?

You can follow Neehee’s on Facebook, Instagram, and on their website!

We hope you loved getting to know more about Dipali + Neehee’s. Be sure to check out our previous Local Love Spotlight featuring Shea + Soul Roots Wax Co.!


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