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20 March 2020 Posted by 

Entrepreneur Rajiv returns to his hospitality roots

ENTREPRENEUR Rajiv Chaudhri has returned to his hospitality roots and taken over the Coco Cubano café-restaurant at Rouse Hill Town Centre bringing it back to life.

Born in India, where his father worked and eventually retired as a well decorated Commodore in the Indian Navy, Mr Chaudhri studied at various schools in India and abroad, including the Lawrence School, a prestigious boarding school in Sanawar, after which he graduated in Hotel Management with an honours degree in English and moved to London.
Beginning his hospitality career as a manager at The St James Court Hotel in London, hosting several state guests and international dignitaries and sports people, he soon developed a fondness for technology and computers as he worked on efficiency reports, time and motions studies and computing reports.
His love for technology resulted in him becoming a Microsoft-certified systems engineer and administrator, leading to a new career path as a self-styled small business specialist, working with entrepreneurs and corporate clients to contribute to their success stories.
During his time in India, Mr Chaudhri set up his own IT company, working with corporate clients and establishing a retail store, The Computer Shoppe, in a shopping centre in South Delhi.
He developed close associations with major IT companies including Microsoft, Hewlett Packard, Intel, D-Link, Samsung, HCL Infosystems and IBM, founding Hitek Peripherals Pty Ltd, a boutique IT consulting company.
Among his other achievements have been founding an export company in 1994 and co-founding and serving as a board member for an excavation and mining company and a limited non-banking finance company, during which time he devised a special scheme providing income for war-widows and disabled ex-servicemen.
After becoming a permanent resident in Australia, Mr Chaudhri joined the Nerds On Site Team and founded Hitek Australia, providing boutique IT solutions to customers within the small and medium segment in Sydney and the Hills district.
Mr Chaudhri is also well known for his philanthropy, having setup the Helen Keller Computer Academy in 2004 in a remote village in north India, conducting free computer workshops for seniors and helping raise $ 25,000.00 for the Bundaberg Floods in 2013 and $ 25,000 for the Salvation Army Bushfire Appeal that same year and many more such initiatives including Christmas In the Hills and the Epping Sleep Out.
He has also worked as a presenter and chairman at Alive 90.5 and joined the Indian Australian Strategic Alliance in 2014 as its Vice President being a part of federal delegations to India.
In 2018, he became the head of strategic initiatives for the Castle Development Group and just last year he co-founded boutique development company Rediscover Living.
With plans to launch Hitek Sports Academy later this year and produce a 90-minute Indian-Australian film, Mr Chaudhri has also decided to prove that hospitality outlets such as Coco Cubano can thrive in local shopping centres.
“At a time when hospitality businesses are moving away from shopping centres, I thought it fit to prove them wrong,” he said.
“It can work if one has a good business plan and a positive mindset.”
Taking over the café in November 2019, Mr Chaudhri has set about creating an iconic hospitality venue, catering to the wider community of Sydney with a multicultural team.
“Through my personal experiences I feel the quality of service in hospitality venues in Australia leaves a lot to be desired,” he said.
“Having graduated in hospitality way back in 1991 I thought the time was right for me to practise what I preach and see if I can walk the walk.
“I have taken over a venue that was in financial stress and presented a challenge to my entrepreneurial mind.
“Cuba has always intrigued me as a country with the historical influences and the political setup, including the revolution in 1959, which impacted its people and cuisine.
“What we offer is not just Cuban food but a Cuban inspired menu which is essentially nouvelle cuisine served through staff personally handpicked by me.
“We have picked up bits and pieces and put them together to ensure they suit our demographics based on market research.
“I believe that people dine out for an experience which makes it imperative for us to ensure it is memorable.”
With a casual and cosy setting, Coco Cubano will have customers believing they are in downtown Havana as they choose from a colourful and varied menu which includes Street Sandwiches, Burgers, Salads and Quesadillas.
In the evenings, patrons can enjoy a cocktail with tapas to share, or enjoy such treats as Fajitas, Nachos and Burritos before finishing the night off with some Classic Churros or Waffles and a Havana Roast blend coffee.
Mr Chaudhri has also introduced live music on Thursdays and phone free dining to his patrons on Mondays and Tuesdays offering them 10% discount off their bills for keeping their phones away to encourage real conversations.
Coco Cubano is in the Rouse Hill Town Centre. Details: 8883 5966.


Publisher and editor, Michael Walls.
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