Brothers Zach and Josh Weprin, along with childhood friend Stephan Harman, were spending their post-college years working at a ski resort in Aspen, Colorado, when they had an idea: What if they opened a sushi restaurant that was easily accessible to everyone?
That idea came to life in May 2010, when the first FUSIAN opened in Cincinnati. The build-your-own-sushi-roll concept has since grown to 11 locations in Cincinnati, Dayton, and Columbus, Ohio, with stores planned for Toledo and Cleveland and the intent to grow far beyond the Buckeye State.
"We are a niche dining option positioned to bridge the gap between grocery-store sushi options and traditional Japanese dining experiences," Harman says. "The industry as a whole is highly fragmented, with primarily small owner-operated models, and we believe that diners will increasingly desire prompt, healthy, and diversified meals while supporting companies with a high focus on quality ingredients, accessibility, and elevated hospitality."
To date, FUSIAN has promoted a DIY sushi experience, offering a range of wraps, proteins, vegetables, and toppings for guests to design their own meal. But now the business is changing gears, with more of a focus on chef-driven signature dishes and with a new menu platform: bowls. The restaurants will now feature four Inspired Bowls and four Inspired Rolls, each highlighting a variety of ingredients, proteins, and dietary needs (the first lineup includes a Highland Bowl with white rice and roasted chicken and a Kaleo Bowl, which is gluten-free and paleo-friendly and includes kale and yuzu-tossed tuna) while still featuring the build-your-own option.
To perfect new menu innovations, FUSIAN designated its location in the Grandview Heights neighborhood of Columbus as its Test Kitchen, where the company will develop new ideas and assess their viability for a system-wide rollout.
"Our Grandview store is the perfect location for us to try new things," Harman says. "The surrounding neighborhood is rich with progressive palates and a diverse base of diners willing to discover."