60% of mid-size motels and hotels in the US are owned by those of Indian-origin, and of those, 1/3 have the last name ‘Patel’; a name used by the educated-merchant class in Gujarat, India which means “landowner”
The “Patel motel” phenomenon, as it is popularly known, has made a major impact on the American hospitality industry.A sizable number of Indian immigrants to the United States came in the 1960s and 1970s. Some came to pursue higher educations, but upon graduating with MBAs, Engineering, etc. degrees could not find professional jobs or jobs that paid well. Many of them worked in blue collar jobs and saved up and bought up undervalued and dilapidated properties and turned them into businesses. As many as 60% of mid-sized motels and hotel properties, all over the US, are owned by people of Indian origin. Of this nearly one-third have the surname Patel – a popular one among Indian Gujaratis (those that came from Gujarat). “According to the Asian American Hotel Association (A.A.H.O.A), 50 percent of motels in the United States are owned by people of Indian Origin”. A large immigrant population of educated Gujuratis came in the 1960s and 1970s. These Patels are known as founding fathers, having worked hard and saved, then invested in many properties. Having a steady amount income and savings, they called over their distant relatives and friends from the villages of India. Upon their arrival, they would already have financial assistance from the founding fathers and could start up their own businesses. In popular culture, a Gujarati film Kevi Rite Jaish satires the community’s fascination to emigrate to the United States.