One Hell of a Fish Story
This is a classic case of “being careful what you wish for”. Brothers Benny and Lenny Huang quietly operated Ooka sushi and hibachi restaurants in Doylestown and Willow Grove, PA for 10 years before deciding to turn things up and build two multi-million dollar destinations in Montgomeryville, PA (Ooka) and in the Lehigh Valley (Komé). The big city designs and cutting-edge cuisine evoked surprise and delight from their suburban consumers, and immediate praise from the local food press. But the Huang brothers knew they couldn’t rely on word of mouth and occasional press to drive the volume they needed to achieve to be successful in their ambitious destinations. They needed a steady stream of news stories that validated them as THE best resource for sushi, hibachi and composed Japanese cuisine anywhere. They needed to stake their claim in the consciousness of food lovers, who would not only enjoy their restaurants, but become ambassadors for them and sing their praises to all of their friends. They needed a plan and a publicist.
One of the first things I noticed upon meeting Benny and Lenny and seeing their menus was the fact that Ooka and Komé have a very talented chef running the kitchens, and impeccably trained servers interacting with their guests. Chef Shuji Hiyakawa has an impressive pedigree and a keen ability to marry flavors and textures. I knew early on that this was going to be a fun and delicious relationship.
We identified key press in Philadelphia and it’s suburbs and the Lehigh Valley, and began placing stories in the Fall of 2010 and executed strategies that kept the press coming all year long. We placed big stories in the Philadelphia Business Journal, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Bucks County Courier Times, Bucks magazine, The Doylestown Intelligencer, The Allentown Morning Call, Inside magazine, Lehigh Valley Style, KYW Newsradio, WPVI-TV (Action News), and Philadelphia magazine acknowledged Ooka for having the “Best Sushi” in the region in their annual Best of Philly issue in August of 2010.
We imported two 600 lb. tunas from Barcelona, Spain and created media frenzies in Philly and the Lehigh Valley for the arrival of some of the most prized and delicious species in the restaurant business.
We showcased Chef Hiyakawa’s No Soy Sushi, whereby the inspired chef created seven pieces of hand dressed, composed sushi, which he will not allow soy sauce, wasabi and pickled ginger to accompany due to the fact that each piece is adorned with brilliantly conceived ingredient combinations already. We created a short film that we used to show this deliciously innovative concept to the media, and landed stories in several regional lifestyle and food publications in the Delaware and Lehigh Valleys.
We identified Lehigh Valley Health Network (LVHN) as one of the most important resources in the Lehigh Valley, and fostered a fundraising partnership with them entitled “Sushi Surgeons”. The program paired top docs with our sushi chefs and raised $10,000 for LVHN. The five month campaign also netted us a lot of regular customers who work at the hospital or depend on it as a regional medical center. This was a true win-win for Komé, Lehigh Valley Health Network, patients who benefit from the programs we contributed to, and the participating doctors, who seemed to really enjoy the opportunity to show off their personalities and culinary skills. Besides regional press coverage, a large feature about Sushi Surgeons appeared in the Chicago Tribune.
View WPVI-TV’s coverage of the giant Bluefin tuna at Ooka, by clicking here: http://youtu.be/XuJtfiOQhT4
View Philadelphia Magazine’s annual Best of Philly issue in August of 2010 by clicking here: http://www.phillymag.com/best_of/detail/best_of_philly_2010_sushi/
Click here to check out a B104 radio interview starring Peter Breslow: http://youtu.be/W2bJfjuGc8w