Chef: Seungwon Ahn
Store: Smith’s 277
City: Kaysville, Utah
Average Weekly Sales: $8,000
We don’t usually ask a chef their age, but we heard you’re young for a business owner.
I’m 34 now, and it’s been three years since I started my first Snowfox sushi bar.
When did you come to the States, and how did you hear about Snowfox?
When I came to the U.S. in my twenties, I dreamed about operating some sort of food business. I was in San Francisco first. But I knew I needed more experience with sushi. Then when I moved to Utah a few years ago, I learned about this great business model.
What about it appealed to you?
In a conventional restaurant you don’t really I discovered this type of sushi bar was better because there would be more direct contact with customers. The fascinating part of it is than in this type of business, when you work hard you also see a greater reflection in your sales than in a regular restaurant.
What aspect of your personality do you think has helped you be so successful?
I’m not trying to say my personality is better than anyone else, but I’d say I’m good at building relationships; not just with customers, but with Snowfox managers and JFE as an operating partner. My second strength would probably being very detailed oriented in the way I clean in the store.
Have you had to overcome anything difficult in your life that shaped you into a businessman?
Sure. When I came to the States in 2002, I was full of worry. How would I make it here? Could I actually make a better life here? I think that pushing through that worry, and finding my confidence just before I started with JFE, goes back to my childhood.
I already had a lot of ambition when I was younger; I already equated owning a business with success. Even when I was in middle school and high school, although sometimes I was quiet, I knew I wanted to be a successful businessman. So even then I still tried to connect with people on some level. I always related that trait to success.
What guidance would you give new Snowfox franchisees?
I’ve never thought of this business as “my business”. I think of it as a group effort with JFE. We have competition outside of JFE, but there shouldn’t be any inside.
Some Snowfox franchisees see another Snowfox location as their competition. They get depressed or jealous comparing themselves with another store. But another store’s success helps all of us. So don’t feel down. Keep your head up, and see all of us as an interconnected group. New franchisees need to have that family mindset. And then that prepares us to grow both with the company and as a company.