By Gordon Woodworth, Chronicle News Editor
Ash Anand, the India-born Warrensburg entrepreneur, is adding a Mexican restaurant to his growing list of businesses in northern Warren County.
Ocho Cinco Cantina, a 50-seat eatery, should be open by Christmas in his renovated Ashe’s Hotel building at 85 Hudson Street, Mr. Anand told The Chronicle.
“This continues our efforts to try to provide things in Warrensburg that it didn’t have before,” he said.
Ashe’s was a fairly down and out bar when Mr. Anand bought it.
At Ashe’s: 180-degree turnaround
“Ashe’s has done a 180-degree turnaround, and the sales numbers prove it,” said Mr. Anand. “And now we’ve cleaned up the other side for the Mexican restaurant, putting in a brand-new kitchen and walk-in freezer.
“There’s definitely a lot of anticipation. There’s nothing like that around here. We hope to open by the third week of December, and we’ll be open for lunch and dinner seven days a week.”
He said, “We have turned this place around and have spent $200,000 on renovations and updates. We want to succeed with this, but we want to do it right.”
Will share Grist Mill’s new chef
Mr. Anand also owns and operates the Grist Mill restaurant in Warrensburg. He bought it for $300,000 in 2015.
“Business is better than I hoped it would be at the Grist Mill,” he said. “We have a great staff and a great new chef from Las Vegas, Adam Bruce, who will also cook at Ocho Cinco Cantina while Kate Belden oversees both restaurants.
Mr. Anand, 41, said he now employs 139 people full-time in the nine businesses in his Lotus Group of companies.
How does he retain employees?
“We are very family-oriented, and we are not micro-managers,” he said. “Like Steve Jobs said, we don’t hire good people so we can tell them what to do. We hire good people so they can tell us what to do. We have one common goal. It’s very difficult to find part-time employees, and because all of our employees are full time and can depend on year-round employment, it helps with retention.”
Mr. Anand is the sole owner and CEO. His wife Jaime is Chief Resource Officer.
He said he earned his MBA at the Indian Institute of Management Studies, then moved to California and was a banker with Citibank, Bank of America and GE Finance. He then worked for T-Mobile, where he met his wife Jaime, a Johnstown native.
They and their three children live in Warrensburg. Their oldest is set to graduate from the school this June, he said.
Lotus Analytics & the Park Theater
Mr. Anand said his main business is Lotus Analytics, “working with other businesses to bring efficiencies to finance and human resources and other parts of their business. Our biggest focus is the analy-tics business.”
For instance, Mr. Anand said, “We’re working with Elizabeth Miller at the Park Theater. They are using our point-of-sale system and we do their books.”
He said he and Mrs. Miller were put in touch because his accountant and her accountant know each other. “It was like CPA matchmaking,” he said, laughing.
Owns 66 apartments, 65 occupied
Mr. Anand said, “We have added more rental properties. We now have 66 apartment units in and around Warrensburg, and 65 are currently rented…And we have three offers in, two in Warrensburg and one in Thurman, for more rental properties.”
All of Mr. Anand’s nine businesses are run out of the renovated 101 River Street space next to his Small Tales Learning Center and Day-care center, across from his Grist Mill restaurant.
Mr. Anand also owns Lotus Auto Xperts, a full-service garage, and NAPA Auto Parts on Main Street.
“Small Tales is at full capacity and has a waiting list, the NAPA store is in the top five in sales in the region over the last 24 months, and business at Lotus Auto Xperts is up 80% over last year,” he said. “Having the NAPA store helps that business.”
Banks with Glens Falls National
Asked about financing, he said, “I use one bank, Glens Falls National Bank. We work with Chantal Brean, Candice Healy and David Rihimaki. They are extremely helpful and a perfect fit for what we have always looked for in a banking partner.”
Mr. Anand said his Lotus Healthcare Staffing and Lotus Nutraceuticals businesses are “winding down. Our focus is to continue to transform what we have and make it better rather than acquire more businesses. We are stabilizing, but 2018 has definitely been a good year.”
Serves on school board, finance chair
Mr. Anand is also serving his second term on the Warrensburg School Board, and chairs the finance committee.
Lotus sponsors In The Zone, an after-school program at Warrensburg Elementary School. And Mr. Anand said he personally funds five scholarships a year for graduating Warrensburg seniors, ranging from $500 to $3,000. The scholarship program is in its sixth year.
Does he feel accepted in Warrensburg? “Some like me, some don’t,” he said. “We’re on the right path. It might take a few more years, but we’ll get there.”
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