When you walked into Yumi’s, you were greeted with a smile just inside the front door by the owner, Yumi, taking names for her waiting list. Since the restaurant had no waiting room, aside from a bench that would only fit two people if they really knew each other well, she had to take cell phone numbers to call her patrons if they could grab a spot at one of her 12 tables before she closed for the night.
The wait to get into the “quaint” little sushi bar was often an hour or more. The atmosphere was always crowded (the tables were so close to each other that you were practically sharing a table with your neighbor) and it could get so noisy that it was tough to carry on a conversation across the table. Mix this together with the narrow aisles that caused servers to hip-check almost everyone in the place at least once per meal, and you could say that Yumi’s left a lot to be desired in the “experience” category.
So why was it so crowded all the time? The sushi was fantastic. I’m not comparing Yumi to her Minnesota competition, which, given the 1,500 some miles that we find ourselves away from the closest ocean, leaves quite a bit to be desired for sushi lovers. I’m comparing this to some of the best sushi I’ve had in coastal cities on both the East and West Coast. Yumi’s makes fantastic sushi. The best I’ve had anywhere.
About 6 weeks ago, after a stir fry restaurant across the street closed it’s doors, Yumi made a move. Dawn and I visited her new place this past weekend and I have to tell you, it was quite the upgrade. We came in through the back door and immediately noticed the beautiful woodwork, lots of tables, lots of space, and it even had a waiting room!
We made our way to the front and were greeted by Yumi, still standing inside the front door, seeming to avoid the large wooden hostess stand, taking down names and cell phone numbers.
And even though this new restaurant had at least 10 times the space of her old one, there was STILL an hour wait.
Obviously, this move had been a smashing success. But the sullen look on Yumi’s face didn’t reflect the success that I saw right in front of my eyes.
We made our way to the bar and had a seat to wait for our table and struck up a conversation with the bartender, a server that we recognized from the old location.
I asked her about the success of the move. She told me that it had been incredibly busy ever since the move…and that Yumi didn’t want it this way.
A small business owner who takes on the risk of moving a successful business into a bigger location, hiring more staff and taking on a higher rent payment, and she didn’t want all these customers?
Our server continued, telling us that Yumi made the move not to sell more sushi, but to give her customers a better experience. She wanted her customers to be able to come and eat without a wait. She wanted people to be able to sit around and socialize after dinner without feeling rushed by the line of people waiting inside the door.
She had hoped, with the extra space, that she could spend time getting to know her customers without needing to keep track of a waiting list.
It wasn’t about money for Yumi. She doesn’t want to open a chain of restaurants. She isn’t looking to build an empire.
Her definition of success isn’t more, more, more. For Yumi, success is less. The financial rewards she is seeing now aren’t because of her striving to sell as much sushi as she can.
No, Yumi’s “quaint little sushi bar by the lake” is no longer quaint. It isn’t little either. It is a booming business that is without doubt doing very well financially for Yumi…all because she sought simplicity.
And she just might have accomplished her goal too…if the sushi wasn’t so darn good.
Have a joyful day!
I post a new inspirational article every day of the week (except Sundays). If you enjoyed today’s post, please consider subscribing by entering your email address below. Free daily motivation, delivered automatically to your email inbox!