As per some estimates, 70–80 percent of Motels across North America are owned or managed by Patels of Gujarati origin. When I lived in Colorado and North Carolina, I knew a few IT professionals of Gujarati origin who would continually muse and research ideas on getting into the business of running motels, franchises or gas station. Many eventually made the switch, thanks to the support from the strong network of community.
An interesting article in the New York Times from a decade ago chronicles the journey of Patels (re A Patel Motel Cartel?) “about 70 percent of all Indian motel owners — or a third of all motel owners in America — are called Patel, a surname that indicates they are members of a Gujarati Hindu subcaste.”
So, how do the Patels do this?
“Buying a motel, even one that’s in the red, usually requires a substantial down payment, one beyond the reach of most new immigrants. That, however, is one key to how this particular niche was captured. The down payment was seldom a problem for a prospective Indian purchaser, who was often able to turn to a network of relatives and friends to help him out. The story of Lata and P.J., for example, is not exactly the hardscrabble tale associated with some immigrant groups.”
Check out other articles in the media that chronicle the Patels in America
- Quartz : The affluent Patel clan owns a quarter of US motels. In India, it wants to be called “backward”
- National Geographic: How Indian Americans Came to Run Half of All U.S. Motels
- Commercial Observer: Powerful Patels: A Look Into the Quiet Community of U.S. Hotel Owners
- India Abroad: Housekeeping: The changing face of ‘Patel Motel’ in America
- BBC: America’s Patel Motels – Drop by at a highway motel in the US and in most cases, behind the reception you will find a distinctly Indian presence.