Entrepreneur’s love for cooking and people is a sweet recipe

It’s an intoxicating mixture of cooking, connecting with others and using her savvy that keeps Harpreet Gill motivated as a businesswoman.

It’s an intoxicating mixture of cooking, connecting with others and using her savvy that keeps Harpreet Gill motivated as a businesswoman.

“Honestly, I just love what I do,” said Gill, a 32-year-old Covington resident and owner of Punjab Sweets, a Kent business that serves up traditional Indian food. “I love to cook, and I love people. Getting to know them, having them enjoy a good meal and seeing a smile on their face – that’s what drives me to work every day.”

Punjab Sweets has been steadily cultivating success, thanks partly to a growing clientele and positive writeups about its food in the local media. It’s also due to Gill getting the word out about her products. The Seattle University MBA (masters in business administration) graduate is a one-woman tour de force, marketing her products and developing advertising for them, maintaining a Web site, cooking entrees with her family (her mother and father started the business) and working the front counter.

“I kind of took it into my own hands,” Gill said of her handling of the family business. “Rebranding it, getting a new logo and trying to get (a new line of snack foods) into various local markets. There are all these avenues I want to go.”

Gill once wanted to be a lawyer. But in her freshman year of college, her math abilities led to a job as an internal auditor, and that in turn led her to business. She worked for an accountant for several years, then returned to college to pursue her full-fledged degree in business.

“Even though I love numbers, I missed the personal side of it,” Gill explained of her shift from accounting to business.

At Punjab Sweets, located at 23617 104th Ave SE., Gill has a group of regulars who show up to eat and talk, she said.

“I try to build good relationships with customers,” she said. “Everybody wants to go to a place where they’re recognized. People will come in and say, ‘I really enjoyed our talk, I feel so much more relaxed now.’ I find that really rewarding, just to listen to someone.”

If Gill has her way, other people will be doing some listening in the grocery industry. She’s hoping to broker some deals to have her snack-food line on grocery shelves.

In addition to promoting the business and working in it, Gill also is a single mother to an 8-year-old daughter. Her family, she said, has been a source of support in making it all work.

Thanks to her parents, she said, “I don’t even feel like a single mom. They just do everything for me and my daughter.”

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