This month we speak to Rahul Soni of local eatery Sushi Bae…
When, and why, did you start your business?
I started Sushi Bae in September of 2020. I’ve always had a passion for food and was facing the reality of a career in finance after finishing my final exams in May 2020 for my undergraduate degree. It didn’t really appeal to me and I just wanted to create something.
What challenges did you face when setting up?
Opening the business during the Covid lockdown was extremely challenging. We faced supply chain issues due to staff shortages and also trying to adapt with what was the new normal at the time. I’ve always loved seeking advice and I found that quite difficult as it was impossible to meet new people. I was incredibly lucky to have my family help me out setting up Sushi Bae and bringing in so many good ideas.
What do you love most about running your own business?
Without a doubt it’s the people. Everyone from our chefs to our customers makes this adventure so special. During lockdown we were starved of human interaction and Sushi Bae was great for us to communicate with our customers through social media and the phone.
What valuable lessons have you learned?
A commercial kitchen environment is probably the most stressful place in the world. A valuable lesson I’ve learned is to make the place fun. The chefs feel better and the food always tastes better.
Is there anything you would do differently if starting out again?
Engaging with the community through school fairs and local farmers markets has been so much fun. We wish we’d done this a lot earlier.
What’s your most popular service or product?
We have customers submit some incredible roll ideas and we add them to our menu. Hannah Knott came up with a roll which is a ‘Spicy Tuna with Beni Shoga ginger and cucumber topped with Avocado drizzled with our House made Spicy Mayo and Teriyaki Sauce’. The roll is extremely popular.
What advice would you share with other small businesses or those thinking of starting out?
Just do it. It’s magical to see something written on paper come alive. Also, if you feel something isn’t being done properly and you feel you can do a better job, approach it with blissful ignorance and start from scratch. It’s all experience, from start to finish.
What are your plans/hopes for the future of the business?
We ran Sushi Bae from multiple places as part of a residency and it was a great opportunity to learn and creatively develop, but now we can’t wait to welcome everyone to our restaurant for a Sushi dine-in experience with some unique cocktails created by my mum! Our restaurant is down the road from the rugby stadium on Whitton Road.
Name some other local independent businesses that you love to support.
Grumpy Dumpling – who hand-makes the most incredible Japanese Gyozas. We also really love the Anglers pub where we’ve learnt some incredible tips for customer service and organisation. After a long day in the kitchen we love to go out for a drink at One One Four, where the staff have become our friends.
What do you love about our local area?
Bushy Park is absolutely stunning and Teddington high street has lots of lovely shops and restaurants but one thing that stands out is the local community. Everyone is so eager to help each other and the local businesses always work together; if we ever needed a hand we would always have someone to turn to.
And finally, tell us a little-known fact about yourself!
I have an obsession with cocktails and would rather drink a cocktail than beer or wine any day. I’m also really good at spinning pillows like a basketball on my finger!
105 Whitton Road, Twickenham, TW1 1BZ
Out of 44,000 restaurants on the Deliveroo platform Sushi Bae was nominated with 20 other restaurants across the UK as ‘Best Newcomer of 2021’ and reached the final 6.
Compiled by The Word Sanctum,
Copywriters for small businesses.