Jiban Shrestha came to the United States from Nepal in 1991. He is now the owner of a downtown restaurant and three import shops.
Shrestha, who is 32, worked in his brother’s restaurant in Fort Collins before opening an import shop in Manitou Springs in 1994. “That location was not very good for business,” Shrestha said. He closed the shop in 1995 and moved Everest Tibet Imports to Bijou Street.
Shrestha’s brother Narayan opened a Nepalese restaurant across the street from the shop in 2000. Shrestha bought the restaurant and his brother has since opened restaurants in Boulder and Vail.
Shrestha opened a shop in Old Colorado City in 2001 and another in the Chapel Hills Mall in the summer of 2003. “We have more business at the Bijou store,” Shrestha said. He sells more than 100 varieties of incense at his import shops. “A lot of customers like incense. Most of my business is in incense.”
One of the most popular scents at Everest Tibet Imports is nag champa, which has a scent Shrestha describes as “very much like a flower.” Shrestha said customers appreciate the quality of his incense. “A lot of people make fake incense,” he said. Everest Tibet Imports also sells brightly-colored, hand-woven clothing, prayer flags and belly dancing jewelry and accessories.
The Everest Nepal Restaurant specializes in rice biryani dumplings, an Indian-style flatbread called na’an and clay oven-baked tandoori dishes. The sampler dish, which features a number of Nepalese delicacies, is quite popular. “The restaurant business is very up and down and we do most of our business in the summer,” Shrestha said.
The three Everest Tibet Import shops and the Everest Nepal Restaurant are family-operated. Shrestha’s sister-in-law works at the Bijou location, his mother-in-law is an employee at the store on West Colorado Avenue and his brother-in-law works at the shop in Chapel Hills Mall. A number of Shrestha’s cousins lend a hand as well.
“I like it in Colorado Springs,” Shrestha said. When he came to Colorado Springs from Fort Collins to start his own business he was nervous about negotiating with landlords for his shops. “They look at backgrounds and we didn’t have one,” he said. Shrestha’s first landlord had once traveled to Nepal and the two were able to share their experiences with one another.
The Everest Tibet Import shops are located at 23 E. Bijou, 2623 W. Colorado Ave. and in the Chapel Hills Mall. The Everest Nepal Restaurant is at 28 E. Bijou Street.