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This is Fred Ball for Zions Bank, speaking on business.
Five years after Gene Kwon took over the struggling Mikado Japanese sushi bar in Salt Lake City, he quadrupled sales. Not bad for someone who felt he had no idea what he was doing.
Gene's father purchased the restaurant from the original owners in 1991. At that time, Gene had just graduated in industrial engineering from the University of Washington and was working in his father's engineering consulting firm. However, Gene soon realized he hated working as an engineer, so his father let him try his hand at the restaurant business.
Gene told me he had no idea what he was doing. The only experience he had in retail was as a women's shoe salesman at Nordstrom. Not at all related. But Gene took what he had learned about customer service while working at Nordstrom and applied it to the restaurant. To increase service, Gene said he first went about increasing employee moral. As a result, customer service increased as well as sales.
I asked Gene if he incorporated any big advertising or marketing schemes to also boost sales. His reply was, "No." He focused solely on employee moral and service. The rest took care of itself. Most clientele are either repeat customers or hear of the restaurant from friends.
I've been a customer for years and I'm delighted about their new locations. Besides the restaurant in downtown Salt Lake, there is one in Park City, and another one in Cottonwood next to our new Zions Bank branch. Gene also owns the Kampai Sushi Bar in Park City. Each restaurant is decorated in a traditional Japanese style with polished woods and soft lighting. The master sushi chefs are imported from LA and prepare anything from teriyaki tenderloin to Red Dragon sushi rolls. Customers can order a single entrée or go a la carte and taste a variety of menu items. The restaurants are open for both lunch and dinner and Gene can be found eating there three or four times a week.
With several locations to choose from and an authentic Japanese appeal, Mikado sushi bars are definitely worth considering as a unique restaurant to take your sweetheart to this evening for Valentine's Day or on any other special day.
For Zions Bank, I'm Fred Ball. I'm speaking on business.