Sunil Dharod and an Applebee's restaurant
Source: Getty Images / LinkedIn

How Restaurant Mogul Sunil Dharod Came From Humble Beginnings

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Jul. 29 2021, Published 2:02 p.m. ET

The story of how restaurant mogul Sunil Dharod grew his empire is truly a rags-to-riches one. Dharod’s family company, SSCP Management, Inc., now owns and operates 70 Applebee’s, 47 Sonic Drive-In’s, and five Roy’s Hawaiian fusion cuisine restaurants.

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That’s quite an accomplishment considering that Dharod grew up in India selling milk to help his family make ends meet.

roys
Source: Roy's Restaurant
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How Sunil Dharod got started in business

Dharod was just 3 years old when his father died. His mother had to raise three boys on her salary as a seamstress. Dharod started working at age 7, delivering milk and doing odd jobs to help his family’s finances. Dharod credits his mother for instilling a strong work ethic in him and his brothers.

“Everything we learned was from my mom,” Dharod said in a 2016 interview with Nation’s Restaurant News. “She instilled a good work ethic. She worked as hard as we all did.”

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The Dharod family moved to the U.S. when Sunil was 15. A year later, he worked three jobs at Carl’s Jr., Jack in the Box, and as a busboy for an Indian restaurant.

After high school, Dharod fulfilled his dream of working as an auto mechanic. While the job paid about $50,000 per year, Dharod worked overtime almost every night and earned almost $100,000 per year in that position.

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With the money he earned as a mechanic, Dharod bought his first restaurant, a Jack-in-the-Box in Los Angeles, when he was just 21 years old. He eventually bought six more Jack-in-the-Box locations and was eyeing more, but the franchise refused to sell him anymore. In 1992, he sold all of the locations and moved to Texas.

In Dallas, Dharod first bought 12 Burger King locations, but his holdings in the fast-food company grew to about 19.

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In 1999, he also bought 11 Blockbuster franchises. As consumers moved toward streaming movies and away from renting from brick-and-mortar video stores, Dharod eventually shut down his Blockbuster locations one by one.

Sunil Dharod is known for his “Midas-touch” in the restaurant business.

Despite the demise of the Blockbuster franchise, Dharod was able to take the restaurants he bought and turn them into profitable businesses. He's known for his golden touch in the restaurant industry. In 2010, Dharod was selected as a finalist for the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year award in the Dallas region.

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In 2008, Dharod bought 37 Applebee's in Texas. Three years later, he bought 21 more locations. He eventually sold off his Burger King locations. In 2015, he bought United Ohana, which operates the Hawaiian fusion cuisine restaurant Roy’s.

What is Sunil Dharod’s net worth?

Although there's little information on Dharod's net worth, the whole Dharod family has a net worth of about $80 million, according to the website Exact Net Worth.

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Source: Puja Dharod Instagram

Dharod's daughter Puja and son Chris work with him at SSCP Management. Dharod's older brother, Harshad, owns over 75 Carl’s Jr. locations in Southern California as well as 2,000 apartments.

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“I have a saying for my life - Barefoot to Bentleys,” Dharod said in a 2018 interview with Plano Profile. “There is no place like America. The Land of Opportunity is an understatement. You can achieve anything if you’re willing to work hard.”

Sunil Dharod bough part ownership in CiCi’s Pizza.

In March 2021, Dharod’s SSCP Management and Mooyah Burgers owner Gala Capital Partners partnered up to acquired the CiCi’s Pizza chain, which includes about 300 restaurants in over 30 state.

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