Born in Nabha (in the district of Patiala), in the state of Punjab in 1929, Sarjit Sikand was one of five children. His father, Baldev S. Sikand was a wealthy landlord. In his late teens, Sikand witnessed India gain independence and was also got an opportunity to meet Jawaharlal Nehru while attending college.
After getting married in 1956 and having two daughters the following year, Sikand decided to pursue further education in the United States. He completed a master’s degree in civil engineering from Auburn University in Alabama, before moving to Chicago with his family. Sikand worked as an engineer for a few years and after having his fourth kid (his only son), he started developing a proclivity of becoming an entrepreneur.
Sikand started distributing Indian films in the United States while maintaining his full-time engineering position. He also showed these movies at the Vic Theatre. Sikand soon realized that the Indian-American population in Chicago was devouring this aspect of their culture. Sikand expanded his business and started importing Indian spices and groceries next. It was in no time that he was able to quit his engineering job and fully concentrate on the business. Demand soared so high that Sikand supposed opening a brick and mortar store was a no-brainer. He launched the ‘Indian Gifts and Foods’ store along with a restaurant ‘Moti Mahal’. It was not long before he expanded his business to include the ‘Gaylord’ and ‘Kabob Korner’ and the North Shore Banquets.
Sikand’s hard work brought him much success. His simple recipe of recognizing a gap in the market, along with his vision and determination to bring his culture to America, he paved the way for a new breed of entrepreneurs. His resolve and vigor made him a highly respected individual in the Chicago Indian-American community. Eager entrepreneurs and leaders regularly sought his counsel. His achievements and expertise was a valuable asset in assisting fellow Indian-Americans in starting their own businesses. Sadly, we lost Sikand to the heaven in May of 2009. He is survived by his daughters, his son, his grand-children and his wife.
Sehgal, -Subhash. “Sarjit Singh Sikand’s Obituary on Chicago Tribune.” Chicago Tribune. N.p., 5 May 2009. Web. 09 Jan. 2016.
“Death Notice: SARJIT SINGH SIKAND.” Tribunedigital-chicagotribune. N.p., 05 May 2009. Web. 11 Jan. 2016.