Gohar completed his undergraduate studies with a Bachelors in economics from LUMS in 2014 with a focus on law and marketing. Co founder and managing partner at Johnny & Jugnu, a fast rising brand that aims to introduce our Pakistani style of fast food to the world.
Issues of interest – people development, food industry and understanding Pakistan’s economic perrels from an anthropological perspective. As the first entrepreneur in a family of white collar workers, Gohar enjoys a unique perspective on the challenges faced in breaking through barriers (both cultural and economic) to build businesses from scratch. Avid marvel fan and aspiring kite surfer.
If someone asks who is Gohar Iqbal? How do you like to describe yourself?
That hasn’t been an easy question for me to answer right off the bat. However, the past few years have revealed to me that I thrive when the going gets tough and a new path has to be found to success. So you can say I’m a persistent guy with a whole splash of resilience.
Can you tell us about where were you born, and raised? Any best memory attached while growing up?
I was born and raised in Islamabad, We had a family ritual to go out for dinner every Saturday to Jinnah Super but what I was more keen towards was skipping dinner and buying French fries from street hawkers and a pack of Pokemon cards.
Would you like to tell us something about your childhood? Who was your childhood hero?
My mother was and still is my hero. She set a very high bar for excellence and compassion in everything she ever did. My childhood was very simple, we followed a very tough regimen that was focused towards academic success. I remember my mother setting up summer camp in our living room during the summer vacations and finishing up the entire curriculum for the next year in 3 months.
What does the morning of restaurant owner (Gohar) looks like, and first thing you do to kick off the day (Coffee or Tea)?
Morning is a subjective word in our industry. I’ve always struggled to be a morning person, luckily in our line of work we can get away with waking up a bit late, I would love to wake up early, hit the gym, read a book and send out a few emails before anyone wakes up but I’ve come to terms with the fact that I am just not built that way, I am a night owl. Ive actually never tasted tea but have recently started enjoying black coffee.
How was your stay at LUMS? If someone inquires you about the best thing you adopted from LUMS what would it be?
I didn’t make it to LUMS in my first attempt and am glad I reapplied the next year. My time in LUMS was transformative to say the least, I owe a lot to this institution and my peers who brought out the best in me. Probably the best lesson I learnt in university was that the cost of excellence is eternal vigilance.
What did inspire you to join the food business? Are you a foodie too?
To be honest I never thought I would be in the food business, but I guess hospitality has been something that has intrigued me for a long time. I live to eat and till this day I love to get high off my own supply .
Your Brand Name is Unique – ”Johnny & Jugnu (J&J)”. How did you come up with this name?
Well when we were deciding what to call the restaurant we wanted a name that was sticky, a name that inspired intrigue. It just so happened that two people who were present during this brainstorming (cousins of Dr Adnan) happed to have nicknames (Johnny and the other one was Jugnu);
Lahore, a city that is considered the Hub of Pakistani food, do you think the city has helped you grow your business, if it would have been any other city, do you think it would have impacted your business dynamics?.
I know this is a bit of a controversial statement, but, Karachi is where the good food is and Lahore is where all the passionate foodies are! We owe all our success to the people of Lahore, till this day I run up to people who will take hours to give me feedback and tips on what we should be doing, we owe most of our success to the love Lahories have for eateries.
You recently talked about expanding your business in other cities, are you planning to launch it in all other cities step by step, or would it be transitional?
Many people believe that we are way too slow when it comes to expansion but our goal has never been to have the highest number of stores in Pakistan but to serve the most number of customers in Pakistan. This is a slight change in goals but has a huge impact on how we choose to grow. We will grow in whichever manner helps ensure consistency in product and service.
Any advice you want to give to the aspiring youth of Pakistan who wants to join food ventures in the future?
There is no business like the food business! You have to be a bit crazy to do this (we’re in business 365 days year). There are easier ways to make money but there are very few businesses that give you the opportunity to impact the lives of so many people on either side of the ordering counter.