Jae Woo| Founder of Otosan Sushi
We'd love to know your story! How did you get started? How did you get to where you are today? What are you most proud of?
I grew up in restaurants. My parents worked around the clock and I spent many evenings as a child doing my homework and babysitting my little brother alongside my parents late into the night. As I child, I always associated restaurant work with long hours, late nights and lots of struggle (which is still sometimes true). Over the years as I helped grow my family’s business, I started to understand that restaurants (particularly ones that are family owned and operated) have an opportunity to change people’s lives. A thriving small business can impact customers, employees, and certainly the owners as well. The changes that I observed over the years in my staff, in my community and in myself inspired me to want to stay in the restaurant industry despite all the challenges.
What advice would you give someone wanting to pursue a career similar to yours?
My advice for anyone who wants to pursue a career in restaurants, and specifically Sushi is to not over complicate things, especially the food. Focus on the simplicity and quality of the ingredients; respect the heritage and tradition of the cuisine. More importantly, I would say that anyone who wants to be in the restaurant industry should know that this business about people, not cooking. If you love cooking, but have a hard time understanding/motivating people, it will be a long and unfulfilling journey.
What are the best resources that have helped you along the way?
Aside from my father, I had a hard time finding role models in my industry. So, I tried my best to hire really good people (marketers, designers, chefs, administrative staff) and then defer to them for their respective area of expertise. Once I find them, then it's my job to listen.
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