Dance Like Nobody’s Watching

Posted: March 7, 2011 in Uncategorized

“This is like watching a fat guy make out with my girlfriend…on National TV.” – Trevor

Well said my man.

Such was the feeling last night, while watching America’s Next Great Restaurant on NBC.  The show debuted after months of hype, and was meant to showcase the “next billion dollar idea” in the Fast-Casual Industry. They were looking for entrepreneurs with a story and a spark, a fresh idea that fills a new need in the industry (read, no more sandwich/burrito concepts). They were looking for someone with the charisma and energy to pull it off. In case you haven’t been keeping up…they were looking for Sabi Sushi.

Instead what they found was an alarming collection of recycled old ideas, or incompetent entrepreneurs. A meatball concept “Saucy Balls”, a Waffle and Chicken Wing restaurant, and a Grilled Cheese Sandwich concept are the early favorites…Now I’m normally not one to discourage one’s idea or ability, but we dedicate ourselves to this 24-7, 365 days a year – and then we have to watch “Saucy Balls” live our dream on national TV? It’s hard not to shake our heads in disgust.

It’s sad to think how far we could have gone in this show. The winner not only gets a large momentum boost by being featured on a prime time NBC show, but also has two of its judges, Bobby Flay and Steve Ells (the creator of Chipotle), invest in their concept – while immediately being handed 3 prime locations in Hollywood, NYC, and Minneapolis. Contrast that to the incredible battle we’ve fought in securing our first location out here in Boulder, CO, and it just sounds too good to be true.

The worst part is, someone had even informed us about the show during the time it was casting in Raleigh, just 15 minutes away from where we lived at the time. When you work with honest intentions, with clear eyes and a full heart, you rarely encounter the dreaded word: “Regret”. A word that describes my disappointment that we didn’t fully explore this show’s casting opportunity. A word I never want associated with Sabi again.

Maybe that’s what this was meant for. To make us hungrier.  I can’t lie and pretend it didn’t hurt to watch that show last night. But at the same time, a part of me feels that it’s good we didn’t get the fast-track to fame and success. We’ve been fortunate with many things, winning the Duke Start-Up Challenge, having the support of the Duke Basketball Team, finding key mentors and having the chance to sit down and talk for hours with the founders of huge brands like Chipotle and Noodles and Co.

However, it’s easy to shine when the lights are bright. When the stage is set, when everyone is watching, it’s easy to work hard – to do your best. Anyone can be motivated when the prize is in sight.

The true test of success goes back to one of my favorite phrases: “dance like nobody’s watching”. For us -. We have to work while nobody’s watching. The ideas and progress we make now, when it’s just the three of us in one tiny apartment, sleeping on air mattresses for the last 6 months, sharing one bathroom. This is the test of our character. How hard we work before our store opens its doors, before the TV and Press opens its arms….now, now is the time.

So to the contestants on the show right now – consider yourselves lucky.

And if there’s a Season 2 – game on.


  1. Aunt Patti says:

    Never hearing anything about the hype of this new reality program, I was a tad intrigued by the concept and story line. Big time judges. Bobby Flay. Watching bits and pieces of the first show, I have to admit, I started thinking about the Kevin Bacon chain. Somehow everyone on a chain is associated with Kevin Bacon. Exit Kevin, enter Bobby Flay. Flay challenged Phillip Yi from Sushi Central of LA to a “Throwdown” competition. Phillip Yi connects to Sabi Sushi. Phillip has become a friend and mentor with Trevor, Shaan and Dan, otherwise known as Sabi Sushi. The Kevin Bacon chain. The Bobby Fly chain. The new chain in town, The Sabo Sushi chain. So, I watched with anticipation the introduction of participants. This was your show. Your venue. Your opportunity. The script and story was written just for you. I envisioned the three of you waiving at the camera saying hi mom, hi dad, hey Aunt Patti. Bummer. Everyone, support the show allowing it to have a second season headlining Sabi Sushi as they tell their story engaging in the competition. Kevin Bacon chain. Bobby Flay chain. Sabi Sushi chain.

  2. sabisushi says:

    Patti – This may be the greatest comment in Sabi history. Thank you for this.

  3. […] Dance Like Nobody’s Watching […]

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