Dr. S. L. Sethi (or Doc as everyone knows him) was five years old when Punjab and India split due to an internal civil war. All Hindus had to leave Punjab so he and his family had to find a way out of the country. Dr. Sethi made friends with the soldiers at age 5. As a result, it helped his family, three sisters and five brothers leave Punjab safely. They went to refugee camps with no money and little possession. He had no shoes and no sweaters in the winter. His entire family lived in one room that was 12’ X 14’. Doc washed dishes in people’s homes and carried baggage as a caddy at the train station to help his family survive. He was determined to get an education.
Once he was educated, Dr. Sethi came to the United States to further his knowledge and earn his PhD. He worked as an assistant professor and sent home money which built a new home for his family to live. After achieving his PhD, he went back to India to marry Raksha, his dear wife. She has been the pillar that stood behind him his entire life.
Doc could not find a good job in India so he and his wife made the decision to come back to the US. It was 1968, and he had just $50 in his pocket when he arrived. With that $50 and a professor’s position, he settled in Mississippi.
Jackie’s International was started over 30 years ago in 1973 with the opening of Doc’s first drive-in in Brookhaven, MS. Others soon followed in Hazlehurst and Yazoo City. With their initial success, Dr. and Mrs. Sethi soon stopped teaching at Mississippi Valley State University and continued to build new restaurants and add new divisions such as Western Sizzlin. In addition, Doc would build hotels which he sold to others to own and operate.
The rest is history. With his determination, his faith in God, the belief that absolutely nothing is impossible, and an amazing family of team members, Dr. Sethi built Jackie’s International into a multi-million dollar company. Today, our company consists of over 70 properties in four states including Bumpers Drive-In, Western Sizzlin, numerous hotel properties such as Hilton Garden Inn and Hampton Inn, our two new ventures with partner Grant Nooe in Pan-Asia and Fresh Market Cafe, and our Super Saver convenience store division.
The growth we will experience over the next three years is phenomenal. We will add a minimum of six new hotels to our company including Hyatt Place, additional Hilton Garden Inn properties, Holiday Inn Express, two Hampton Inn & Suites and more. Bumpers Drive-In will also experience growth with the addition of nine more stores. In addition, we continue to add new Super Saver convenience stores to our family.
The favorite thing Doc loves to say and truly believes is “When I came to Mississippi, I came to heaven on earth.” He says that if he were ever to die and be born again, he’d want to be born in Mississippi. We as a company love the South and believe firmly in Southern hospitality and good people. That is why we continue to grow our operations in Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas and Tennessee.
Our people are the backbone of our company and have made us what we are today. We currently employ over 1800 team members. As Doc loves to say and as we all feel, we would be nothing without the hard work of our team.