Innovation and growth are two of the most important factors of any successful fast casual restaurant, and SuViche,a concept that fuses Japanese and Peruvian cuisine, is doing both remarkably well, said Aliosha Stern, co-owner.
"Unlike other fast casual concepts with a limited menu and a simple operation, SuViche is a bit different as we offera diverse menu and in some locations a full bar," he said. "This, of course, requires a more experienced operator."
The brand, which launched in 2010, and has since reported that sales haveincreased year over year, will continue opening corporate-owned stores in SouthFlorida and is now searching for operators in major cities on the East Coast, Sternsaid.
"In the long term, we will look to achieve a national and international presence," hesaid.
Stern, who set out to bring a "light, flavorful, high-quality and affordable food" toMiami, found the inspiration for SuViche in Peru's history with Japaneseimmigrants.
"Since the 1800s, a lot of Japanese immigrants arrived in Peru in search for gold,
and as a result Peru’s culture — especially its cuisine — has been largelyinfluenced by the Japanese," he said. "When I began thinking about opening arestaurant, I was looking to create a concept that offered both light and flavorfulfood, something that Japanese and Peruvian cuisines have in common. I realizedthis niche had not been filled by anyone in Miami at that time."
One of the most important features of the SuViche concept is the Pisco Bar, which
sets apart SuViche as a fast casual restaurant with casual dining tendencies.
"Unlike traditional fast casual restaurants, our customers can order as they would at a regular bar, with bartendersor with their server," he said. "At first glance, it may seem as a regular bar, however, the difference is in ourefficiency in processes and procedures, which tie back to the fast casual style of operation."
To discover more about SuViche's strategies for success, FastCasual conducted an in-depth interview with Stern.
FastCasual: How are you able to keep costs at a fast casual price point?
Aliosha Stern:This was definitely a challenge at the beginning when we didn’t really have the volume to getdiscounted pricing on many items. The focus here, however, has been on implementing lean practices to keepcosts controlled. Of course, this has been a work in progress as we continuously keep innovating and implementingbetter processes and procedures to be able to provide great quality products at an affordable price point.
FC: What is the most expensive item and how much?
S: Pezcado a lo Macho with Seafood, priced at $17.95.
FC: Will you ever franchise?
S:Perhaps in the near future, yes. We already have everything in place to be able to franchise but we have notpursued this model yet because we want to find the right area development operators/partners in major U.S cities.
FC: How are sales?
S:Store sales have increased year over year since our inception in May 2010. As a company, we have more thandoubled our sales in the last two years. We average$1,600 per square foot in sales.
FC: How do you measure success?
S:We measure our success not only in terms of numbers but by thelevel of satisfaction of our team members and our guests. Westrongly believe in instilling a strong culture guided by ourprinciples. It is very important to us that our guests are happy, andthat our team members are happy with their work environment.This, in turn, has a direct effect not only in producing an aboveaverage net income percentage and higher sales per square foot,but it also lowers employee turnover rate and increasesproductivity. In addition, we do have a number of metrics that wetrack on a weekly and monthly basis.
FC: What is your prime marketing tool?
S:Even though we use a combination of marketing tools such as social media, promotions, non-traditional marketingand advertising, etc., we believe that our prime tool is our team members and our product. Our team members havedirect contact with our guests and proudly represent our brand, which in turn generates widespread word of
mouth. As mentioned before, we truly believe and focus on culture, which leads to high morale, happy teammembers and happy guests.