From passion to plate

Step into the warm atmosphere of Utsuri Sushi, a small owner-managed restaurant in Annlin, Pretoria, and you’ll immediately feel the passion and dedication that has gone into creating this unique establishment. From the wood panelling to the wooden counter-top, everything has been lovingly inspired and created by owner Jacques Germishuys himself. But it’s not just the ambience that sets Utsuri Sushi apart – it’s the unwavering commitment to quality and sustainability that shines through in every aspect of the business. Utsuri Sushi has something for everyone, and the personal touches will make you feel right at home. Join us as we sit down with Jacques to learn more about his journey as a small business owner and the secret to Utsuri Sushi’s success.

Jacques Germishuys of Utsuri Sushi. Photo: Wendy Bezuidenhout

Nestled in the suburb of Annlin in Pretoria, Gauteng is Utsuri Sushi, a small owner-managed restaurant that is a testament to one man’s passion for food and dream of owning his own bespoke restaurant. Jacques Germishuys, the owner of Utsuri Sushi, is a man whose warm personality and contagious enthusiasm can be felt as soon as you step into the restaurant. Jacques’s love for food and cooking has been the driving force behind his desire to create a unique sushi experience for his customers.

Starting a business is never an easy task, and Jacques faced his fair share of challenges when starting Utsuri Sushi. One of the biggest challenges he faced was finding funding to get the restaurant up and running. Another challenge was finding the right staff to match the vision he had for the business. However, with determination and hard work, Jacques was able to overcome these challenges and make his dream a reality.

What sets Utsuri Sushi apart from other sushi restaurants is their focus on quality over quantity. Jacques is a firm believer in specialising in one thing and doing it exceptionally well.

At Utsuri Sushi, the main focus is on delivering the best quality product every time. Jacques has ensured that Utsuri Sushi is the number one choice when it comes to authentic Japanese sushi, with a wide variety of vegetarian and vegan options also available.

To ensure they only provide the best, Jacques trained under an authentic Japanese Master Sushi Chef in Johannesburg.

Photos: Figure of 8 Photography

Running a small business can be challenging, and it requires a lot of hard work and dedication. Jacques stays motivated and focused on his goals with the support of his loving wife, who encourages him to dream big and take the necessary leaps of faith. Jacques has learned that hard work pays off and putting in the hours is the key to success.

In the ever-changing world of business, it is essential to adapt to new technology and market trends. Jacques has partnered with a local start-up company based in the Western Cape, which has helped Utsuri Sushi create a loyalty program that they believe their customers deserve. The loyalty program is entirely digital, meaning everything is cloud-based, and they can do away with unnecessary printing, saving the planet and their customers’ time.

As a small business owner, Jacques admits that balancing personal and professional life can be challenging. He has had to put everything into the shop and sacrifices personal time to ensure the success of the business.

One of Jacques’s proudest moments was making his first sale, even if it was just a 500ml Coca-Cola cooldrink. Seeing the printer print out the receipt with the company’s logo on it for the first time was a feeling he will never forget. Building and maintaining relationships with customers and clients is crucial for any small business, and Jacques has made it his personal goal to get to know every single customer that walks into the shop.

Social media platforms and word-of-mouth have been the most effective marketing strategies for Utsuri Sushi. Jacques’s vision for the future is to expand the Utsuri reach and open their next store in 2023.

For other entrepreneurs just starting out, Jacques advises holding steadfast and staying committed to the vision. Dealing with setbacks and failures is part of the journey, and Jacques has learned to put his head down and do the job himself to overcome them.

At Utsuri Sushi, they don’t follow industry trends but push to perfect, develop, and create their own signature meals. They add a pinch of Utsuri magic in every product they create and have tried to move away from single-use plastic items, with all their packaging being biodegradable. Jacques’s vision is for Utsuri Sushi to be the best sushi spot in Gauteng, and his passion for food and dedication to quality ensures that this vision is not far from becoming a reality.

Tatenda Matava – Sushi Chef at Utsuri Sushi. Photo: Wendy Bezuidenhout

Tatenda Matava, Sushi Chef at Utsuri Sushi who is known for her big smile, hard work, and creativity in creating new sushi dishes. She was born and raised in Harare, Zimbabwe, and moved to South Africa in search of better opportunities when she couldn’t find a job in her field in her home country. Although Tatenda holds a degree in Sociology, she struggled to find employment in her field after moving to South Africa.

Tatenda started working at Moishes Butchery, where she assisted Sushi Chefs with cooking rice and making sushi salads. She then decided to learn how to make sushi herself, and she’s been perfecting her skills for the past six years. She trained under an authentic Japanese Master Sushi Chef in Johannesburg, which has helped her develop her skills to the highest level. Working alongside Jacques, she enjoys creating new dishes and sauces, experimenting with different flavours and ingredients to provide customers with a unique and delicious experience.

Tatenda’s hard work and dedication to her craft have paid off in the form of beautifully crafted sushi that impress both seasoned sushi lovers and first-time clients alike. Her creativity and commitment to improvement make her a standout sushi chef.

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This article was featured in Pivotl Magazine, Issue 1 of 2023. Read the full issue here.

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