The Sushi Central Family (Sushi Bootcamp Part 2)

Posted: July 27, 2010 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Since Shaan isn’t giving you Part 2 of How Being a Stalker Saved Sabi Sushi until Wednesday, I guess I’ll have to break up his story with an update from LA…

While I expected to move on from scraping fish, it turns out this will be a staple of my time here in LA. Fortunately, it gets easier the more you do it (on the positive side I am getting to know my way around yellowtail, tuna and salmon pretty well) but ultimately it’s a very boring job.

Luckily, yesterday Phil decided it was time for me to learn how to cut….let me recreate the scene for you:

Phillip: Dan, you are a much better scraper than Trevor.

Dan: Why thanks, Phil.

I mean…

Phillip: Alright Dan, it’s finally time for you to learn how to use these knives and practice cutting…

Dan (thinking): Awesome, I can finally stop scraping fish and practice making sushi!

Phillip (pulls out a bucket): Here you go…

Dan (realizing this is not a bucket of fish but instead a bucket of chicken): (silence)

Phillip: Did you think I was going to let you destroy my fish?

So I spent the next hour or so sharpening my knife skills (sorry for the pun) by removing the fat from chicken and then filleting it for teriyaki (don’t worry, the story is about to get relevant)…

Anyway, the restaurant was pretty dead, so most of the other employees were just standing around. Once they saw the mountain of chicken in front of me however, they grabbed cutting boards and knives and joined the cause.

I bring up this story because it shows the type of working environment Phillip has created at Sushi Central – no one else was told to help me, no one was even supposed to help me (sorry Phil) but they did because they wanted to when they saw I could use some help.

Even having only been there 5 days, I can see how close of a family Phillip has created at Sushi Central. Since the restaurant industry has such tough hours, it’s not unreasonable to say that sometimes you are in the restaurant more than you are even at home (including sleeping!). But in order to not go crazy you have to enjoy yourself while at work.

For the past few days I have spent 13+ hours/day at Sushi Central, and honestly I have enjoyed every minute of it. I once wondered how some employees could work such demanding hours day after day, year after year – but Phil’s approach to the workplace has allowed me to see myself doing this.

When I asked Phil about how he treats his employees, he immediately told me that if I was to remember one thing from my trip to LA, it wouldn’t be how to make sushi or how to even run a restaurant…instead, it would be how to treat your employees so that they’re always happy, and that in return they will help you operate a successful business.

Whether it’s making everyone sushi and having a ‘family’ meal right before the dinner crowd arrives, or yelling for everyone to come watch Pulp Fiction on TV in the middle of the day, you always have to create an environment that is both inviting and fun for everyone. True there is a ton of work to be done, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find ways to make it enjoyable.

I’ve never seen a workplace quite like Sushi Central, and I think that adds to the charm of the place. While the food is awesome, I think Sushi Central has so many regulars (literally, some people come 2+ times a day just to hang out) because the customers sense the relaxed atmosphere of the place.

I’m not sure we’ll ever be able to find a crew of people quite like the Sushi Central staff, but using Phil’s philosophy as inspiration we can emulate most of the positive aspects I found at Sushi Central.



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