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Ricki R. Oberoi ('86)

Oberoi Holdings, Inc.

Lectured November 8, 2012

Ricki R. Oberoi was born in England. His father was an accountant for the local city government, and his mother was a teacher and justice of the peace. In the late 70s, his parents opened a couple of casual-dining restaurants. Soon, despite their loftier aspirations for Ricki, he found himself drawn toward the great industry of foodservice at an early age.

After graduating from high school, he joined a culinary arts program specializing in European Cuisine and completed a two-year course. In 1982, his family moved to Houston, where he then enrolled in the Conrad N. Hilton College of Hotel and Restaurant Management at the University of Houston. Because of his extensive culinary background, Ricki also took a position as a teaching assistant for the legendary Dr. Ted Waskey. Meanwhile, his parents, having established themselves in the community with a variety of small eateries, opened one of their first Indian restaurants. Ricki took an active role in the operation and management of the restaurant, gaining invaluable work experience.

After graduating in 1986 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Hotel and Restaurant Management, Ricki joined Taco Bell as a trainee in the company's management program. Within three months of completing the training, he was promoted to general manager. As such, he rapidly became familiar with the various aspects of the fast-food industry.

In 1989, he decided to join his parents on a new venture, Shiva Indian Restaurant. The restaurant became quite the hot spot, combining a health-conscious Western influence with the traditional flair of Indian cuisine. The restaurant enjoyed rave reviews and saw its share of celebrities and dignitaries, including former President George H. W. Bush, the Prime Minister of India, and the rock band Aerosmith, to name a few. In addition to in-house sales, the Oberois also developed a booming catering business. Their largest event hosted more than 1,500 people with a menu of 25 items, with all the food production and execution emanating from a relatively small 3,000-square-foot restaurant. 

Although his achievements had exceeded his expectations, Ricki still felt he had not yet found his true career path. Then, in 1996, he was awarded his first Wendy's franchise. It was love at first sight. Ricki knew that was where he was going to grow. In 1998, he was offered another unit. With no existing stores available for sale, it was time to build. In December of 1999, he opened his Sugar Land location. In 2000, he built and opened his fourth store. His fifth store opened in 2003, followed in 2010 by the sixth, and the seventh in 2012. In 2013, Ricki will be adding two more stores to his portfolio. 

Among his other accomplishments, Ricki served as executive chef for Gourmet Night in 1986, president of the Houston Restaurant Association in 1996, and president of the Hilton Alumni Association from 1998-2000. In 1995, he received the Distinguished Young Alumni Award from Hilton College. 

Ricki's wife, Asra, is a physician and an honorary alumna of Hilton College. The couple has three children: Rishi, a junior at The University of Texas, Austin; Razak, 10; and Sahara, 7.