We recently interviewed Mrs. Miyuki Su from Kashin Japanese Restaurant (www.kashin.com) in Cary, to ask her about Kashin’s rich history and how they are dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic.
1.) Would you be so kind as to tell us a bit about yourself?
Paul and I are second generation Taiwanese and Japanese living in Apex, NC. I’ve lived in the Triangle the majority of my life; Paul came here for college. We have 2 children and are blessed to have our parents living with us under one roof.
Coming together with people, family and friends is very important to us. Providing good food everyone trusts and loves is the best way of doing just that.
2.) Please introduce us to your restaurant and how it came to be established in NC.
My parents came to America when my father was offered a job in Atlanta, GA as a head chef at a Japanese restaurant. They worked at that restaurant for 10 years and then another Japanese restaurant for several more years before deciding it was time to open up their own. My parents opened Kashin in 1991 with the mission to provide traditional Japanese cuisine. When we took over the helm with my mother in 2000, we wanted to honor that mission.
Kashin has been around for nearly 30 years and has certainly been through some good times and tough times but we stay strong because of the community and the people we serve. We have provided both monetary and time-based support for various causes over the many years. Most recently, we provided meals to Wake Medical Hospital in conjunction with the Triangle Area Chinese American Society in appreciation for the frontline workers.
3.) What is your main customer demographic?
Many customers have ties or connections with Japan and its culture and typically live within a 10 to 15-mile radius. Many are knowledgeable of or have an interest in Japanese culture. My favorite is when we have students come in to Kashin to try to experience what they’ve learned in their Japanese class.
Over the years we have seen customers bring their dates to our restaurant, get engaged, marry, start families and now their college-aged children eat here. They are like family to us. Much like the TV show “Cheers,” friendships have started because customers see each other every week at Kashin. We build relationships with our patrons so that they are comfortable with us. They trust us and the quality of our food. Coming back again and again is the biggest compliment we could ever receive and we are always so grateful and honored.
4.) With the current COVID-19 pandemic, and the State of Emergency declared in North Carolina, what have been the primary challenge for restaurants and specifically for your restaurants?
Opening up a restaurant, especially a restaurant as small as ours, is a daunting task. Under the current guidelines of keeping 6 feet between tables, we can only open up 4 tables. Additionally, all staff are required to wear masks and gloves and perform additional cleaning procedures to ensure a COVID-19-free environment. We often question if it’s worth it but, in the end, have decided that it is. We know our customers come to see us but more importantly, the experience of having food served straight to the table from the kitchen does not compare to takeout. It’s simply more enjoyable.
We are opening up responsibly. First, we make sure all our staff wear masks and are trained on all cleaning and disinfecting procedures. Secondly, customers who dine-in are only allowed to enter our restaurant after checking temperatures and sanitizing hands. We arrange for all takeout and delivery services to be picked up outside. We also try to collect dine-in customer phone numbers so that we can do any contact tracing, should the need arise. We have gone above and beyond the recommended guidelines in an attempt to minimize the possibility of bringing the virus home, where our elderly, at-risk parents also live.
5.) Has your restaurant shifted your business model to compensate for the pandemic? How so?
We used to be 90% dine-in and 10% takeout. It is now the complete opposite. We have switched to online ordering and food delivery platforms. We have also adopted a different wage scale to help our staff through these hard times.
6.) After the pandemic ends and people start coming out to restaurants again, does your restaurant have any plans to change your approach, moving forward?
This is very hard to say. We obviously cannot predict the future but what we do know is that we will do whatever is necessary to keep our staff and patrons safe.
7.) How may your customers best support your restaurant during this time?
We always appreciate the positive reviews from our customers. Social media is even more important now than ever.