Behind the Kitchen with Beyond Sushi Julie February 17, 2015 Behind the Kitchen, Featured, Healthy, Hot Spots, Japanese, Restaurants, Reviews, Vegan Two summers ago I lived right in Union Square, fortunate to wake up to an incredible farmer’s market everyday, great restaurants on the block, and endless activities right out my front door. Of course, being the healthy foodie I am, I was always on the prowl for the next best healthy hot spot in the area. Just before my summer came to an end and it was time to move out, I caught the grand opening of the beyond creative, beyond delicious, Beyond Sushi. Since it’s opening in the summer of 2012, Beyond Sushi has added two more locations and has gained much deserved admiration and recognition. Its’ second location is right in Chelsea Market, satisfying all the hungry tourists, and its’ third location just opened last fall right in midtown. This new location is its’ largest yet, and now even takes dinner reservations. For so much growth and recognition over the past two years, it’s easy to see that people are not missing the fish in their sushi. That’s right, Beyond Sushi is entirely vegan, making this sushi one of a kind and beyond anything you’ve ever tried. It’s also apparent that Chef Guy Vaknin is doing something very right. I recently went Behind the Kitchen with Guy to talk about “fish-free” sushi, the vegan lifestyle, and the ups and downs of running a business and doing what you love. My favorite moment of the interview was when a loyal customer came in, gushing to Guy about his love for his sushi. “I’m not vegan, but after a long day at work, this stuff is the best fuel for my workout.” A non-vegan obsessed with vegan sushi? Yes, this “stuff” is that good. The Business Side of it All – Beyond Sushi On what it takes to open a business in New York, Guy makes it clear that a lot goes into the process. “You need to think about absolutely everything, and then some” explains Guy. He admits he luckily had an amazing support system, and still does, which eases the experience a bit. Two years and three locations later, Guy has no regrets. To “win” in this business, you have to “give up a lot to gain a lot, but I’d rather fail miserably, than never take the risk,” shares Guy. Now that sounds like true passion. Why Vegan? At the core, Beyond Sushi has always been focused on making health and nutrition its number one priority. Guy has carefully designed each roll and item on the menu, making sure the nutrition quality is maximized in each bite. The whole concept was meant to be healthy first. It actually originally opened as vegetarian, but with a couple tweaks to the menu, it soon became fully vegan, as Guy believes the vegan lifestyle is the healthiest. Through eating this sushi, you’re not just getting a good meal, you’re getting the nutrients you need, and your body will thank you. Importance of Customer Loyalty After opening, Guy has been blown away by the loyalty of his customers. With many restaurants not making it in this city, he owes much of his continued to success to his incredible customers and building relationships with them. Hey he even remembered when I first ate there two years ago! Creating that relationship with customers is the most rewarding part of the job, says Guy. He feeds off the customers and their feedback. He even admits he’s changed recipes based on Yelp reviews – “You have to be aware of what works and what isn’t, and be open to adapting”. With no concrete plans for opening a new location, there’s no denying the possibility. Maybe more TV? Maybe a new restaurant entirely? With all the success Beyond Sushi has had, and continues to have, I have no doubt we’ll be seeing more of Chef Vankin’s creativity for years to come.