Hospitality With a Heart in Sarnath

Our Story

Sarnath Café began in 1998 as a little foodstall with veggie  cutlets and a big dream.When Sukhdev first saw the land where BSS stands today, he heard a voice deep down inside saying, “This is my land!” Sukhdev’s father nodded approval, and the next morning Sukhdev cut a deal with the owner. The Saini family enterprise – Buddha’s Smile School and Sarnath Café – had its ground.

Sukhdev’s foodstall opened under the name “Burger Point” and for the first year it sold chai, omelets and veggie cutlets. As the menu grew, Rajan’s teaching activities also expanded. In the morning, she taught for fees at her Humpty Dumpty Kindergarten next to the restaurant, and in the evening she taught for free to her former untouchable students in Ashapur village where they lived before. The restaurant paid for her rickshaw trips back and forth to Ashapur each evening.

In 2003, following that inner voice again, Sukhdev and Rajan took a second loan because Sukhdev decided it was time to overhaul the restaurant. He shifted the kitchen’s location, and with a new fridge to store ingredients, added more Indian chicken and vegetarian items to the menu. Sure enough, more customers started to come for the creative atmosphere and delicious food of Chef Sukhdev. Meanwhile, next door, Rajan had opened the doors to Buddha’s Smile School in May 2003 and her first 30 students had walked in. A recent photo of those first students – 10 years of education later – shows a miracle to be told in a separate story.

After all of these steps and successes, Sukhdev suffered a terrible set back in 2009 when he lost his leg after a motorcycle accident. The grace of God and many friends around the world helped him to stand up again and get his life back. “This is a second life for me now. I am so grateful that I was saved and for my happy family. I never lost my faith and confidence,” says Sukhdev.

In 2010 and 2011 Sukhdev slowly recovered and began taking steps again to develop Sarnath Café. As he watched things improve he felt his inner sense of direction again telling him the time was right for the Café’s final construction. He took out a big loan to finance a renovation and began a 3-month makeover of the Café building. Completed in August 2012, the renovated Sarnath Café now has 50 seats, a spacious, remodeled kitchen and 4 lovely rooms upstairs in the new Saini Guest House. Now customers are more relaxed and spend longer in the Café.

Sukhdev and Rajan encountered many obstacles – untold in this story – at each step of the way. Sukhdev’s long experience with Sarnath Café has been fully practical; it’s taught him to always look for creative ways to expand, reach out and gather more support for Buddha’s Smile School. And of course to always feed happy customers with his gourmet food. When looking back at the 15-year story of Sarnath Café, Sukhdev reflects that he has seen a bit of Cupid’s magic in the air: 4 couples have married after meeting in the Café. Even if you’re not looking for romance, you are always welcome to Sarnath Café to enjoy its world-renowned food and the Saini family’s hospitality with a heart.