The opening of the first How Do You Roll? sushi restaurant in 2008 should be considered a watershed moment in fast food history. No heart-clogging grease was needed to sell quick, made-to-order meals, and good sushi was made available to anyone who didn’t feel like flying thousands of miles to Tokyo for a meal from sushi master Jiro Ono.
Since that opening by brothers Yeun and Peter Yung, How Do You Roll? has expanded to California, Arizona, Florida and North Carolina, but this Friday night could feature the biggest moment for the company when it enters the Shark Tank.
Airing at 8 p.m. this Friday on ABC, the series features a panel of potential investors hearing out pitches from budding entrepreneurs about their start-ups as they seek investments for their ideas. Since its first episode back in 2009, TV Guide has estimated that more than $12 million has been invested by the show’s panelists, but even businesses that don’t make the cut still receive more than ample exposure to entrepreneurs across the country.
Even if the brothers aren’t able to impress Mark Cuban and company, the episode will mark a major moment in the company’s history. The two grew up in Chinatown in Manhattan and began their lives in the restaurant industry through hard work at their parent’s establishment. Both would leave the nest for Texas, with Yuen studying business at the University of Texas, while Peter would become the head sushi chef at an upscale Houston restaurant.
When the brothers realized that they both craved fresh sushi that wasn’t pre-made at the grocery store or didn't cost an arm and a leg, an idea for a new take on the sushi bar was born. Despite starting out in the midst of the recession, the story of How Do You Roll? and the Yung Brothers is a narrative that exemplifies the friendly atmosphere towards small businesses in Austin.
The sushi bar franchise will be the third locally-based business to make its national television appearance on Shark Tank. Previous Austin businesses that gave their pitch included Grease Monkey Wipes, which gained an undisclosed amount for funding, and Games2U Inc., which left the show without a deal.
Hopefully, How Do You Roll? will be able to continue its dream of spreading love of sushi to all corners of America and teaching everyone that raw fish and eels are nothing to be afraid of.