A Miami restaurateur went from &#039significant failure&#039 to running a $20 million sushi chain. Listed here&#039s how he used marketplace research, family members-oriented leadership, and savvy partnership techniques to expand to 20 locations.


  • Abe Ng is the CEO and founder of a multimillion-dollar sushi franchise, Sushi Maki, which has in excess of 20 destinations throughout South Florida and won Entire Food’s “Provider of the Yr” award.
  • Ng shared with Small business Insider what he realized from the “colossal failure” of his first enterprise, a gourmand burrito chain that rapidly went less than.
  • Collaborating with other corporations was important to improving upon business, Ng explained.
  • He also stated how his family members-oriented management design and style improved productivity and fostered loyalty, and how he adapted to food items shipping applications to raise profits.
  • Click below for extra BI Primary tales.

Abe Ng took a major possibility opening a sushi franchise in Miami 19 yrs ago. It was uncharted territory for Japanese delicacies in South Florida, and Ng wasn’t guaranteed how nicely it would do. His assurance was previously shaken from a earlier unsuccessful undertaking in 1997, a gourmet burrito chain that promptly folded in under three several years.

Abe Ng

Ng (pronounced “ing”) presently gave individual assures on leases for two locations in Miami for the burrito cafe that was, in his terms, a “significant failure.” Due to the fact he by now signed the leases and his burrito chain folded, he seemed at what types of restaurants would be profitable in the neighborhood. He understood that a burrito chain wasn’t carrying out very well in a city currently saturated with Mexican and Hispanic food stuff, but his study confirmed that sushi was underrepresented.

But he nonetheless feared his subsequent enterprise would finish the same way as the 1st.

“You feel of all the outcomes and what do you do if it fails? Go back to university? You consider of all the downsides,” Ng stated. 

Abe Ng in his office

Ng claimed that he had no option but to go forward with a thing to fill the place that he leased. For the reason that of his to start with failed venture, his resources have been stretched slim. 

“Our 1st symbol was Microsoft Term Century Gothic Font. We couldn’t afford a brand,” Ng claimed. 

Ng opened the initial Sushi Maki in the summer time of 2000 and gained much less than $1 million in earnings. He has given that opened around 20 locations throughout South Florida, major more than 250 persons, in which Sushi Maki acquired over $20 million this yr. His business won a Whole Food’s “Provider of the Yr” award and Ng individually received management awards, which includes a title from South Florida Small business Journal as the “Best CEO,” and a regional finalist for the Ernst & Young’s “Entrepreneur of the Calendar year.”

In an job interview with Enterprise Insider, Ng shared how he rebounded from his failures and how he grew his organization to be one of the most recognizable sushi chains in Miami.

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Determine the market

Miami has by no means had a significant Asian inhabitants, so it helps make feeling that the city failed to have many sushi restaurants in the 90’s. According to a census report, the inhabitants of Asians living in the city was fewer than 1% in 2000.

An underrepresented delicacies could stand out and do effectively, but it arrived with the hazard that something new could not do the job out.

Ng reported there were being a assortment of delicacies alternatives in Miami, other than for sushi. He also researched that persons were being interested in new and ethnic food stuff, alongside with healthy consuming.

Miami experienced a powerful and stable financial state at the switch of the millennium, the art scene was rising, and the town, dubbed the “gateway to the Americas,” had Latin delicacies popping up, and the solid Cuban lifestyle produced it a prime vacationer place. 

Sushi Maki utilised significant-good quality substances, had arms-on provider, and supplied a fashionable dining practical experience, all of which Ng explained introduced shoppers again. In the winter season of 2000, Ng opened another cafe in Coral Gables, which was the 2nd spot he’d at first leased for his burrito chain, and from there stored expanding.

Ng stated Sushi Maki was the first enterprise to provide bubble tea to Miami, a well-known East Asian drink that was absent in Miami.

“My spouse and I were in LA visiting household and we observed bubble tea everywhere you go — we thought, why not us?” Ng claimed. “We discover what is amazing and entertaining and try to introduce it via our system.”  

Collaboration and professionalism

Sushi Maki’s to start with significant crack came when a lodge requested sushi for wholesale in 2002. Considering the fact that it was one particular of the only sushi dining establishments in Miami then, with a increasing name in the local community, occasion planners and lodges commenced inquiring Sushi Maki to cater. 

“Whenever a person identified as for an order, I would immediately generate an invoice and send an e-mail on my Blackberry to affirm,” Ng explained. “When we professionalize, that was when small business skyrocketed.”

Aside from the places to eat, which ended up undertaking perfectly, Ng recognized catering was a great option to further more business. He also seen much more individuals were having well prepared food items from supermarkets, so he wished to promote branded sushi. He arrived at out to different supermarkets in Miami and targeted Whole Foods for its clientele. He sooner or later received a deal with Full Foods to have a Sushi Maki retail outlet in just about every South Florida sector.

Sushi Maki started off marketing there in 2007, and due to the fact of the mind-boggling achievements of profits, Complete Foodstuff awarded the cafe “Provider of the Year” for the Florida region in 2018. 

Sushi Maki recently secured a long-expression multi-calendar year arrangement with Total Foodstuff to keep on staying their provider. Ng explained it has provided the company a ton of self-assurance and safety.

He also utilised “non-conventional” venues to market sushi. He opened up stands in two universities, the University of Miami and Florida Global University, two stadiums, a healthcare facility, and in the Miami Global Airport. As a substitute of serving the complete restaurant menu, these stands experienced Sushi Maki storefronts that only sold sushi.

“The progress forward for the food sector is non-traditional, ahead thinking, and that usually means it is generally likely to be collaborative,” Ng explained. “No one particular does it on your own anymore. To be thriving you have to be a good crew player. It is a wonderful financial commitment.”  

Spouse and children-oriented management

Each and every quarter of the calendar year, Sushi Maki closes early on a weekday to keep a casual, pleasurable gathering for in excess of 250 workers. The company evaluates each location’s profits overall performance and how to greater them selves, but also has time for the employees to kick again, have exciting, gain income prizes, and participate in the expertise clearly show.

The collecting, which the firm phone calls the Pow-Wow, is an vital party that will help improve team unity and can make employees sense component of the Sushi Maki family members. This is also a likelihood for Ng to reward his employees customers for their really hard perform. Small business Insider went to the function and observed chefs, cashiers, accountants, and a member of the advertising workforce each profitable $100 for exemplary do the job. The winner from the expertise show gained $500. 

Ng mentioned the organization loses over $50,000 in product sales although restaurants are closed for the event. He reported it is critical they close on a performing working day rather of a vacation or weekend so that staff users can be with their liked types. 

“Generally have the workers on your side and it comes down to them trusting you. Place their interest initial,” Ng stated. “My son says that the prospects could constantly be correct, but the workforce will generally be the most significant.”  

Embrace disruption

Ng concerned that food items shipping apps could bring about a “restaurant apocalypse.” But leaning into shipping and delivery applications helped Sushi Maki enhance its profits, Ng said. To make confident his dining places is not going to die, he produced the dining practical experience memorable for buyers, an working experience they would miss out on out on if individuals use supply apps. 

Sushi Maki has dining rooms for celebratory functions, and hosts chopstick classes for the community. The encounter, Ng explained, differentiates them. 

“We embrace digital apps, but you have to make it component of your enterprise, not enable it just take about the enterprise. ” Ng explained. “Allow these third functions assistance mature our brand and make them want to arrive to our destinations.” 

Ng reported embracing these varieties of threats and locating unconventional venues to offer their sushi assisted develop the model. And Ng wishes Sushi Maki to be remembered for a extended time.

“We want our brand to stand for anything,” Ng explained. “If Sushi Maki ceased to exist, we want folks to truly pass up it.”



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