Staying True

Posted: July 11, 2010 in Hall of Fame Posts

Today was one of the most productive and valuable days we’ve had in a long time. We split up and spread out across the city to stake out some key locations. For hours we sat and counted the number of people who walked by, the number of people eating at particular restaurants and the type of people that were doing so. We met with our real estate agent and he gave us great demographic information on the area as well. All this information is extremely important in becoming familiar with the Chicago area, but is not the reason that today was so productive and valuable…

For the first time in a couple months all 3 of us sat and talked for a couple hours. Since graduation things have been so hectic with the LA trip and the ridiculous amount of work that we have been putting in we never took the time to regroup. But, tonight we did. We took a step back and talked about what it was we were trying to do and asked ourselves questions like: what things have we done right? What have we messed up on? Why have we been successful? What will lead to success in the future? What are we looking for in our perfect location? etc, etc… By answering and discussing these topics it brought us back to our roots. We remembered who we were and where we had come from. We recognized that the only way to succeed in our mission was to stay true to our plan and do things our way, just as we have done every step of the way.

We also noticed how Chicago has been a tremendous test for our ability to stay true to who we are and what we are doing. There are no words to describe what its like to drive through the “Mag Mile” (downtown Chicago) area of the city. The sidewalks are literally packed with thousands of people, all day everyday. At first glance, anyone would think that they could open up any kind of  restaurant in this area of the city and it  would absolutely kill, because of the sheer volume of people. In fact we fell into this same trap. We were so in awe of the number of people that we became lost in discussions of how easily we could get over 700 people through the restaurant daily.  This would involve simplifying the process to a point where the only focus of the restaurant would be to make food as fast as possible and as cheap as possible in order to maximize volume and profit. We ran the numbers through our financial models and were immediately fixated on how many zeros would be headed our way…

But tonight, when we took a step back and got back to our basic mission and concept, it was obvious that this wasn’t Sabi. We didn’t set out to mass produce cheap, poor quality food just to make a buck. We, like I am sure many others have, got caught up in the numbers and lost track of who we were. Luckily we were able to catch this at a very early stage of our journey and re-focus on what our mission truly is. We want to be the premier nationwide sushi restaurant, and to pull this off we can’t get greedy at the start. We need to have an unbelievably strong foundation. Our first stores must be in a community where we connect with the people and become a part of their lives. We must build personal relationships with our customers. Our food has to be the best quality even if it is a little expensive for us to serve. Each roll that we make has to be perfect and the customers have to taste the care that we put into them. We realized that none of these things would be possible if we just plopped our restaurant in the middle of busy city intersection. Sure, someday we will be able to handle that kind of traffic, but for these first few locations it is all about our proof on concept and creating a buzz about something unique, something different, and something that is truly great. So from here on out we all vowed to not get greedy, rush decisions or lose track of who we are.

Discussions like these were how Sabi was born, and they have been the key to our success in each step of the journey. Tonight I learned that we must stay true to what got us to where we are now and trust that these qualities are what will guide our success from here on out.



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