Wednesday, February 29, 2012
Mr. & Mrs. Chef Nozawa,
There is no establishment in the city of Los Angeles that I enjoy more than that of your restaurant, Sushi Nozawa. It is the culture, consistency, service and overall quality that I have come to love over my past 11 years of patronage.
I was 20 years old when I first had your sushi. I was just starting my current business and I had very little money. When I would save a little, I would bring a friend, a date, a business associate, a co-worker, or anyone who I wanted to inspire or treat to something special.
Through the years as my business grew, Nozawa became a tradition and a place that I would bring only the people I cared about most.
But first, I would scold them in the car.
“Now listen, I need you to leave your phone here. And when you walk in to this place you must put your best foot forward. Bring only positive energy through those doors! If he tells you not to dip, you don’t dip in to the soy sauce. We’ll sit at a table and not the sushi bar, so he doesn’t watch you as closely. But if you get me kicked out of here, I’m telling you I’m not sure if we can be friends anymore!”
Of course I’d have a sense of humor in my voice, but I meant it.
Alongside every respectable business owner are very human motivations. Perhaps with Nozawa you have wanted to uphold a tradition set forth by your mentors or your parents. Or perhaps the motivations are deeper. Anything done so well for so long speaks to a different standard and conviction and determination inside of a person, (or a husband & wife!) than is typical.
Part of why I love your establishment is because I share this conviction in my own business. I know how rare it is. And even more important to me than the fish is the aura of discipline and perfection that is present for any visitor who can see it.
Alongside the deeper motivations for a business owner are more superficial ones that help you to celebrate the small and big victories along the way.
For me and for many of my employees it has become tradition to celebrate these moments in my business with you at Nozawa.
People will speak often of the trends you set in Los Angeles to hold sushi to its traditional roots. And how you’ve defended the art & culture of sushi by scolding rude visitors. But it was important to me that you know how clearly your discipline and hard work shines through Nozawa, and has been an inspiration to other entrepreneurs such as myself in the city.
So you can understand how much I respect your work. How much we will all miss it. And what an impact it has made in the local community.
Co-Founder & CEO
P.S. My girlfriend and I happened to be at the restaurant when the NYTimes photographer was taking photos for your feature. We were lucky enough to be in the photos, and we view it as an honor to be sitting at the sushi bar where we have been so happy for many years!