Opening a restaurant isn’t an easy thing to do, especially during a pandemic. Yet Minnesota State University Moorhead student Aleyah Fettig and co-owner Nat Nongnuang launched Sushi Burrito Café in January 2021.
Nat’s parents owned a restaurant which inspired him to open one as well. Aleyah saw this as the perfect opportunity to take the skills she learned in school and apply them to the real world.
“We’ve been lucky with our customer base and how supportive they have been,” says Nat.
College students make up a large part of their target audience. Nat and Aleyah try to appeal to this demographic through youthful décor.
Social media marketing and word of mouth are the primary ways they reach their customers.
“People go and they tell their friends, and they take pictures and post them on their social media,” says Aleyah.
Aleyah’s current work in an independent research project helped equip her to launch the restaurant. This project, which focuses on how social media is transforming the tourism industry, has impacted the social media strategy that Sushi Burrito Café implements.
Sushi Burrito Café is a unique addition to the FM area. Sushi burritos are not something you’d usually find in a small town. Some of their best-selling products include the “Fiery 007” (spicy roll) and boba tea.
Sushi restaurants are typically sit down but Sushi Burrito Café primarily serves their food to-go. That makes them unique, helping them stand out from their competition. It’s convenient for customers to have the flexibility in eating their food wherever they choose.
Instead of viewing other restaurants as their primary competition, they choose to compete with themselves.
“When we put a product out there it’s not about what they can do better, it’s about what we are bringing to the table,” says Nat.
This perspective on entrepreneurship arose among MSUM business classes and through the support and challenge from professors.
Aleyah especially connected with Hyun Sang An, assistant professor in the Paseka School of Business, throughout her time as a Dragon. In addition to teaching a few of her classes, Dr. Sang An supervises her independent research.
“He came into our restaurant and supported us through reviews and things like that,” says Aleyah.
Nat and Aleyah are both extremely thankful for all of the support they have received from various people along the way. They hope to continue to grow their business and eventually franchise it so they can reach more people.
“We really believe in this,” says Aleyah. “We’re glad we’re making people happy with our food.”
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