“Birds of a feather flock together." This particular proverb has been forever embedded in my brain ever since it was introduced in middle school. The familiar saying truly resonated with me later in life, when interactions occurred with characters that altered my world for the best. Even the confrontations I experienced were blessings because they served as lessons that expanded my palette in this vibrant journey.
Imran Sajid is a perfect example of an individual that plays an important role in the betterment of my life, due to our similar aspirations. All credit goes to Delroy Smith who introduced me to the young, brilliant entrepreneur. Delroy is someone whom I consider a superstar, so there was no doubt that his praise of Imran was worthy.
If there was one word to describe the Queens bred native, it’ll have to be ‘Bawse’ (sorry Renzel). Not only is Imran a full-time student at St. John’s University, the prospering 20 year old owns several booming businesses including 212 Steakhouse, New York’s only restaurant that serves authentic Kobe Beef from Japan. May I also state that the humble Pakistani descendant is a proud American Express titanium black card recipient? (too late, just did).
Now that I have your undivided attention, let’s take a deeper dive in the extraordinary life of Imran. Indulge in my intimate interview with the slick businessman discussing his humble beginnings, hectic schedule and overall purpose.
FRENDY: Delroy briefly told me the epic story of how you both became friends. Can you elaborate on that fateful encounter?
IMRAN: Very epic story actually. While 212 Steakhouse was being constructed, I temporarily worked at Zara’s 5th avenue store location just for the heck of it. I met Delroy while working the fitting room shift. It was pretty cool interacting customers in that particular section of the store so I didn’t mind one bit. When Delroy walked in, I noticed he had on a pin from Louis Vuitton, and I always wondered what it was like to work there. While he was changing in the fitting room, I began asking him questions about his experience at LV. Our energies connected well so we conversed like old time buddies. I quickly asked for his business card before he departed. We kept in touch and the rest is history.
FRENDY: How was life growing up in the States being of Pakistani descent?
IMRAN: Growing up in the States being of Pakistani descent never really impacted my life, not even after 9/11. People never bothered me because I was always the type to mind my own business. It was fun to be left alone. As far as being Muslim, I try to practice my religion the best I can with my hectic schedule.
FRENDY: You are an extremely diligent worker; did your parents play a major role in obtaining this quality?
IMRAN: My parents actually never really wanted me to work. They said I should focus on school and that education is first. My mom didn’t really work much, but my father did. I barely saw him because he was always grinding, providing for the family. I wanted to be able to do that as well, just not work as much hours. Working is not bad, its fun but also a sacrifice. To be brutally honest, I rarely go out. It’s kind of frustrating but I hope it’s all worth it later on in my life. I have a goal to retire before the age of 30 so everyday matters.
FRENDY: What was your very first job?
IMRAN: My first ever job was working for a clown who lived next door. He was a really nice guy so I asked him if he needed any help. He said he needed aid setting up for his parties and that’s exactly what I did. I was paid $30 for every party. It was amazing when he said he had 4-5 parties because I would come home with more than $100!
FRENDY: How long were you working at Zara?
IMRAN: I worked at Zara for about 4 weeks and it was just to pass time. Not to mention, I used to drive to work in a 2014 Maserati. I paid more for parking in a day than what I made in two weeks at the job! Working there was cool though; I met some very interesting people and was able to network. After all, its 5th avenue and everyone shops at Zara.
FRENDY: Hold Up, how were you able to afford a 2014 Maserati already?
IMRAN: Affording the car was easy; parking it was the hard part! When I was 18 I woke up wanting the vehicle, so I treated myself to the 2014 Maserati Quattroporte.
FRENDY: Being so experienced in the real world of business, what can you possibly be studying at St. John’s University?
IMRAN: Like I mentioned before, my parents always stressed the importance of education and how it is needed to succeed. Truthfully, during the first two years of my college career I was carefree. I was a Liberal Studies major, but I recently transferred to the business field particularly in Finance. Being a business owner is cool but it is imperative to know what to expect when you hand over your finances to an accountant. The classes I am taking are giving me more knowledge in regards to that.
FRENDY: 212 Steakhouse is top notch! Thanks for treating the homies and I to dinner at the spot a few months back. Describe the hotspot for those who haven’t yet experienced its fine offerings.
IMRAN: 212 Steakhouse is the only restaurant in New York City authorized to sell authentic Japanese Kobe Beef. Kobe Beef is a very tender and rich steak that is only found in a specific region in Japan called Kobe. The restaurant is truly a nice spot. I personally enjoy eating the food there -- not only because its my own establishment, the food is quality all around. We’ve been featured on Forbes, Zagat and multiple culinary shows. We’re located on 53rd street between 1st and 2nd avenue.
FRENDY: When did you conceive the thought of opening such establishment?
IMRAN: One day I decided to speak with the chef of my favorite restaurant. He was extremely talented so there was no choice for me but to compliment him on his food. During our convo, the Chef gave me a few suggestions on opening up a restaurant. He mentioned that one thing NYC is missing is Kobe Beef, so if I was ever interested in opening an eatery of my own, that should be on the menu. Being inspired, I went home and did some research. I eventually completed the necessary procedures to get approval from the Kobe Beef Council out in Japan. Once approved, my business partner and I knew we had to open up a steakhouse.
FRENDY: How did you build enough Capital to make the restaurant? What was the process like?
IMRAN: The capital for the restaurant came from the proceeds of my online business. I’ve had my online business for a couple of years now and developed a clientele well enough to have it run by itself. The process of building the steakhouse didn’t consist of much. Just a few pieces of advice from accountants but other than that it was simple.
FRENDY: Since we’re on the subject, what other businesses do you own?
IMRAN: I have a few investments in some areas, which are working out pretty well. Other than 212 Steakhouse, I have an online company in which I distribute products to retailers and provide inventory for them. That business is my main focus, as I am trying my best to improve results at the restaurant.
My online business derived from my knack of selling items in HS! At age 15, I was known as the candy man because I was selling sweets in class. That same year, I also began to sell Coke cans at the park. I then graduated to selling products online such as clothes and appliances. I save 70% of my income and spend 30% on necessities (cars, clothing, etc.).
FRENDY: Do you have any free time? If so, how do you spend it?
IMRAN: I do have free time. I usually like to spend it with my girlfriend who’s studying upstate. She comes back and forth to New York during her breaks. As a matter of fact, she’s returning to the city tomorrow and I bought about 20 gifts for her!
Other than that, I’m usually just spending time by myself watching Netflix or something. It’s important to give yourself some time throughout the day to breath because one can handle only so much. It may seem as if some individuals go through life without a worry, but in all reality everyone has problems. It’s very important to take alone time and appreciate life and the people you love. Tomorrow isn’t promised.
FRENDY: What’s the biggest misconception about you?
IMRAN: People often tend to think I’m an asshole. You know what, I might be an asshole but only if someone is being that way to me. Other than that, I’m a very nice person. I never like to stress about anything in life because there’s always someone who is wishing to live the life you have. Often times in business, mishaps occur, but I never like to panic. I don’t like to show any signs of weakness because people tend to take advantage over those that display it.
FRENDY: I personally know tons of individuals the same age as you that are blowing their money on nonsense, and pretty much living their life dangerously. How do you maintain such calmness despite having such hefty funds at your disposal?
IMRAN: That’s a funny question man. You know what it is; I don’t have time to spend money. I’ve been occupied with so many school/business projects that I don’t have time to spend bread. I mean, I like to go out and eat with my boys, but that’s about it. There’s no limit when it comes to shopping, which can be a bad thing. In the past, I was known to blow a lot of money, only to realize the things I purchased were unnecessary. I like to buy nice things for myself but if it’s something that I detest, not even the best salesman can sway me. Purchasing something you like lasts way longer than something that’s been sensationalized by the hype beasts of this era.
FRENDY: With already so many accomplishments, where do you see yourself in 10 years?
IMRAN: I never look that far, who knows?
Written by: Frendy Lemorin
Photos by: Erick Hercules