How does a Brazilian family end up in the United Stated selling Japanese-inspired food?
The Lengyel’s story starts 22 years ago at a visit to the doctor’s office in Sao Paulo, Brazil. The couple was expecting their first daughter and had gone to a routine pregnancy check-up. The doctor had known them for years and was telling them about his recent trip to New York and how he had seen a lot of people selling sushi in little plastic trays to eat on the go, as if it were a sandwich. He had never seen anything like that and thought it was very interesting.
Brazil has the largest population of Japanese descendants outside of Japan in the world, at 1.6 million people. However, there were not a lot of restaurants specializing in that cuisine in the country, with only a few, very expensive restaurants available.
Angela and Alfred Lengyel, already planning on going to New York to buy baby clothes and toys, decided to check out these sushi trays. Indeed, they saw people buying these little trays on the go and got really interested in them. They thought of the possibility of bringing that concept to Brazil as well, and started doing some research.
Before the couple’s baby was due, the first Kappa Sushi restaurant was open and operating at a shopping mall in Sao Paulo. They were the first ones selling Japanese food in a fast-food operation in Brazil, selling sushi trays with rolls, sushi, and sashimi at the mall’s food court alongside other fast-food operations
The family soon expanded their business, opening stores in several shopping malls around the city and later inside supermarkets and hospitals.
The company grew with the rising popularity of Japanese food in Brazil, and expanded to nearby cities as well.
When their baby grew up and was ready to go to the United States for college, Angela and Alfred decided they and their youngest daughter would move with her. The family moved in the fall of 2014 and decided to bring their business with them, expanding it internationally.
However, they quickly realized that there would be a lot of competition if they were to continue with the same operation style and started researching other ways to innovate their concept of fast Japanese cuisine.
The family then learned about fast-casual restaurants and loved the idea, especially because there were only a few restaurants that had tried to combine this method of operation with Japanese cuisine.
With that idea in mind, Kappa Rolls + Bowls was created in 2016. Differently from the Brazilian stores, none of the dishes are ready to go. Instead, they are custom-made for each client with the customer selecting what ingredients they want inside their sushi roll, burrito or bowl. The dish is prepared right in front of them, and they get to choose between eight base options, 18 protein options, and 20 fruits and veggies to make their meal their own. Customers can also top off their creation and their complementary side with 18 different toppings at the topping station.
Kappa Rolls + Bowls is quite different to all the stores in Brazil as it was created with the American public in mind. Kappa is a great option for people who seek a healthy, tasty, fair-priced and fast meal in Miami.
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