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Restaurant case study: Miami owner grew $20 million sushi chain


  • Abe Ng is the CEO and founder of a multimillion-dollar sushi franchise, Sushi Maki, which has over 20 locations throughout South Florida and won Whole Food’s “Supplier of the Year” award.
  • Ng shared with Business Insider what he learned from the “colossal failure” of his first venture, a gourmet burrito chain that quickly went under.
  • Collaborating with other companies was vital to improving business, Ng said.
  • He also explained how his family-oriented management style increased productivity and fostered loyalty, and how he adapted to food delivery apps to increase sales.
  • Click here for more BI Prime stories.

Abe Ng took a big risk opening a sushi franchise in Miami 19 years ago. It was uncharted territory for Japanese cuisine in South Florida, and Ng wasn’t sure how well it would do. His confidence was already shaken from a previous failed venture in 1997, a gourmet burrito chain that quickly folded in under three years.

Abe Ng

Abe Ng.
Courtesy of Marcus Lim

Ng (pronounced “ing”) already gave personal guarantees on leases for two locations in Miami for the burrito restaurant that was, in his words, a “massive failure.” Since he already signed the leases and his burrito chain folded, he looked at what kinds of restaurants would be successful in the neighborhood. He realized that a burrito chain wasn’t doing well in a city already saturated with Mexican and Hispanic food, but his research showed that sushi was underrepresented.

But he still feared his next venture would end the same way as the first.

“You think of all the consequences and what do you do if it fails? Go back to school? You think of all the downsides,” Ng said. 

Abe Ng in his office

Abe Ng in his office, above the Coral Gables restaurant.
Courtesy of Marcus Lim

Ng said that he had no choice but to go ahead with something to fill the space that he leased. Because of his first failed venture, his funds were stretched thin. 

“Our first logo was Microsoft Word Century Gothic Font. We couldn’t afford a logo,” Ng said. 

Ng opened the first Sushi Maki in the summer of 2000 and earned less than $1 million in revenue. He has since opened over 20 locations throughout South Florida, leading over 250 people, where Sushi Maki earned over $20 million this year. His company won a Whole Food’s “Supplier of the Year” award and Ng personally received leadership awards, including a title from South Florida Business Journal as the “Ultimate CEO,” and a regional finalist for the Ernst & Young’s “Entrepreneur of the Year.”

In an interview with Business Insider, Ng shared how he rebounded from his failures and how he grew his business to be one of the most recognizable sushi chains in Miami.


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