Looking at the personalities behind London's small businesses.
Emma Reynolds, Ken Yamada and John Zimern are the creators of Tsuru, a top-notch restaurant located near Tate Modern that serves authentically prepared and ethically sourced sushi and Japanese foods. Londonist recently spoke with Emma.
How did Tsuru come about?
Emma and Ken, friends since school, came up with the idea over a pint. Ken had always complained of the lack of good katsu curry in London and saw the need for affordable, good quality Japanese food in central London. They teamed up with John, another long-time friend, and spent the next 18 months researching market reports, writing a business plan, surveying suppliers and learning to make sushi. They even spent every Saturday for three months selling sushi they prepared at Broadway Market. None of them had ever prepared sushi before and only Emma had been involved in the restaurant industry, but on the business development side.
How did the business develop?
The trio raised personal funds and secured bank financing in matching amounts in early 2007. The restaurant opened in November 2007 in a newly developed area that had no other tenants. Emma dealt with all the none-too-easy-facets of overseeing the interior build-out of the restaurant and Ken used his design background to create the furniture and graphics. John, a barrister, kept everyone grounded and focused. The team always planned for a second location once operations in their first locations were perfected. Tsuru's second location will open soon at Bishopsgate and Emma will shift from running the Canvey Street location to the new location. Although she still spends most of her time in the office reviewing spread sheets, Emma will still pitch in behind the counter when the need arises.
How many people work for Tsuru?
In addition to the partners, Tsuru employs seven full-time and one part-time staff in the
Canvey Street location and more to come once the Bishopsgate location opens in April.
What is the best part of running Tsuru?
"I enjoy the pressure," says Emma, "the adrenaline rush," and the independence that come with owning her own business. The most difficult part is getting the daily operations just right.
Advice for aspiring entrepreneurs?
"Go for it!" But, Emma adds, "start small, control as much as possible and research,
Tsuru is located at 4 Canvey Street, London SE1 9AN, 020 7928 2228 and coming soon: 201 Bishopsgate EC2M. (Stay tuned to Londonist for more about the opening.)