It seems that everywhere you turn in Lafayette, you'll find a restaurant serving sushi. In a town known for fried everything, a restaurant serving raw fish items wasn't really much of a thought to many in town. That all changed when Michelle Ezell developed the concept of Tsunami Sushi. Prior to 2000, it was very hard to find this Asian cuisine. But, after the announcement of Tsunami, two existing Asian restaurants began incorporating sushi to their menu. We visited with Michelle to discuss how her business got started and where things are headed.

1. Did you receive any positive/negative vibes?

The divide of feedback came mostly from the age of the person giving feedback. My parents for instance were very skeptical of us investing our savings into a concept that served raw fish in a community built on fish being battered and blackened. Most mature bankers were also hesitant to loan us money for the same reason. They didn't get it.

2. How did you find the money to open your business?

We turned over every rock that was put in front of us until we found a banker that was familiar with and a fan of the concept and he helped us negotiate the SBA avenue.

3. You're no longer just a Lafayette business...

Nope, we have begun swimming upstream a little. Our 3rd location at Cypress Bayou Casino opened 1 year ago, and we have a lease signed for our 4th location in New Orleans.

4. Why closed Sunday and Monday?

Originally, this was so we could rest and reload. Also, we were able to attract great talent in the kitchen and management side because we were able to offer them something most restaurants couldn't. 2 days off in a row. 16 years later we probably could and should open on Sunday and Monday, but I fear the wrath of overworked staff!

5. To what do you attribute your long-standing success in a food town?

Good customer service and quality products. Both have to happen. One without the other is like a bike with only a front tire. I tell people all the time that I know we spend more money on our products which give us a smaller margin for profit, but serving a higher grade fish or ribeye is what we are proud of.

6. Any suggestions for individuals wanting to start their own business?

Be organized, be humble, hire well.

Tsunami Sushi:

Lafayette | 412 Jefferson St.
Baton Rouge | 100 Lafayette St.
Charenton (At Cypress Bayou Casino) | 832 Martin Luther King Blvd
New Orleans | Coming Soon To 601 Poydras

Visit for more info on Tsunami

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