Meet the Merchant: Amna Humayon

Meet the Merchant: Amna Humayon
Posted on 10/16/2018
Sohaila's Kitchen is named after matriach and head chef Sohaila Humayon, but every member of the family plays an important role in making sure the business succeeds. We caught up with younger daughter Amna Humayon, who told us what excites her about the Lenexa Public Market and how she loves to break barriers through food.

Q. Describe your business concept for the Market. 
A. Sohaila’s Kitchen in the Lenexa Public Market is our only location. Our business concept is simple: we want to provide fresh, authentic, homemade Pakistani/Indian cuisine. We love our small space, and our focus is the quality of the food.

Q. How’d you come up with the idea?
A. The matriarch of the Humayon family (and chef of Sohaila’s Kitchen), Sohaila, has had a passion for cooking since her early years in boarding school in Lahore, Pakistan. After getting married and moving to San Francisco, Sohaila owned a successful catering business in which she provided meals to start-ups in the Silicon Valley. When the Humayon family moved to Kansas, we recognized the need for authentic Pakistani cuisine in the Midwest. After hearing about the Lenexa Public Market, we immediately knew we wanted to be part of such a great place. 

Q. What’s your name and business title/role?
A. My name is Amna and I’m the youngest of the Humayon family. You can call me a jack of all trades for Sohaila’s Kitchen. I’m the founder/owner, social media and advertising guru, and accountant (or at least I try to be). I also proudly serve our customers on weekends, as my full-time role at Cerner keeps me quite busy during the week. 

Q. But what do you really do?
A. Honestly, I do anything and everything I can to help my mom’s dream come true and bring her vision to life, as this is truly her business. She wants to solely focus on cooking delicious, quality food for her customers. I do everything else to make sure she’s able to do what she loves! 

Q. What excites you about the Lenexa Public Market?
A. I love being able to break cultural, societal, and political barriers through something as simple as food. Sharing our rich Pakistani culture with customers and witnessing their eagerness to learn more is truly the best part. The Lenexa Public Market is a place where people connect over food — what’s better than that?!

Q. What might surprise someone to know about your business?
A. Drum roll: our best-selling dish, the butter chicken bowl, is created by Ayesha (Sohaila’s older daughter)! Sohaila isn’t too fond of the dish and therefore has given Ayesha full reign on it. Ayesha has perfected a unique, one-of-a-kind butter chicken recipe you won’t find anywhere else! 

Q. What makes your business unique?
A. What makes our business unique is that every member of our family plays an equally important role in helping our business succeed. Sohaila cooks, Pervaiz (the husband) plays special assistant to Sohaila, Ammad (the oldest of the Humayon kids) takes care of customers, and Ayesha cooks 60+ pounds of butter chicken sauce per week! You’ll even see Ayesha’s little ones, Yusuf and Zaeem, and husband Haris, at the shop occasionally. It’s everyone’s second home! 

Q. What is one thing you hope customers say after they leave your restaurant/shop?
A. I hope customers leave our shop feeling like they just shared a meal with us in our home. We strive to deliver a very personal, authentic experience for our customers. 

Q. What made you get into this business?

A. My mom is the strongest person I know — she fought and overcame an immensely tough battle with breast cancer. I wanted to give life to my mom’s dream of owning a food stall, something she has talked about for as long as I can remember. 

Q. What is the biggest challenge for you in opening a market stall?
A. Figuring out how many customers to prepare fresh food for on a daily basis…it’s so unpredictable! 

Q. Why should people support local businesses?
A. Supporting local businesses means you’re quite literally supporting a dream. Although local businesses seem like fairly small operations, people put so much hard work, sweat, and tears into its success. When you support local, you’re also directly contributing to your community’s economy. It can’t get better than that!

Q. What’s the coolest thing you’re working on?
A. Designing counters for our stall — it’s so fun to be able to customize everything according to our needs and taste.

Q. Favorite lunch spot?
A. Sheridan’s Unforked — I love a good burger! 

Q. Where might someone find you if you weren’t at work?
A. Spending time with my fiancé in Tampa, a quaint local coffee shop, library/ bookstore, and Orange Theory Fitness.