How a Family-Run Japanese Restaurant Made $2.5 Million with the ChowNow Team

Apr 22, 2022

Rosie Gordon and her husband Shoji Mochizuki founded Sushi-Zen in Arlington, Virginia in 1997. With the help of the couple’s children, Brian and Malinda, Sushi-Zen has become a mainstay in their local community just outside of Washington, D.C.

In 2018, a desire for efficiency, affordability, and quality service led them to join ChowNow for a long-term partnership. Just under four years later, the family restaurant has served over 30,000 online orders through ChowNow, earning more than $2.5 million and saving $500,000 on our commission-free platform.

Sushi-Zen has made over $2.5 million and served over 30,000 in fewer than four years.

Taking Care of Guests, Employees, and the Bottom Line

With takeout orders comprising over 30% of Sushi-Zen’s total sales, the phone at the family Japanese restaurant was constantly ringing. Co-owner Rosie Gordon knew that online ordering would be essential for her restaurant’s growth. She recounts, “Our takeout kept increasing and our customers—who were picking things up—kept saying, ‘You know, it’d be really nice if you had online ordering just to make it faster.’” 

Finding the right online ordering provider, though, was a different matter. Gordon and her team tried out several third-party, commission-based delivery apps , but found these services to be unfair and unsustainable. “I wasn’t happy with them,” Gordon states. “It was partly inconsistent customer service, partly misrepresentation or things we didn’t like in the contract terms, and the costs to our bottom line were outrageous.” 

“I read some articles about ChowNow—how the company has a fair philosophy and wants to support restaurants with lower costs, and it just seemed like their outlook aligned with ours as a family business and as a moral, ethical issue.” - Rosie Gordon, Co-Owner, Sushi-Zen

Since these commission-based marketplaces didn’t send tips to the Sushi-Zen staff, employee morale went down. “I was hearing complaints all the time,” Gordon shares. “No one wanted to be on the carry-out section.”

That’s when Gordon consulted the owner of a neighboring restaurant, who referred her to ChowNow. She remembers, “He said it was a very easy ordering setup, it costs less, and his staff loves it because they can still get tips. So I just called up ChowNow.”

The Solution: Commission-Free Ordering with a Supportive Team

Sushi-Zen signed up for ChowNow Pro and quickly launched their branded, commission-free ordering in July of 2018.

Gordon notes that getting started was quick and easy thanks to her ChowNow Restaurant Success Manager and the ChowNow Onboarding and Support teams. 

Sushi-Zen also uses ChowNow’s Order Better Network and the free ChowNow app to consistently gain new customers. With their Restaurant Success Manager’s help, they deploy print and automated email marketing to promote their online ordering and increase guest loyalty.

“I really like the fact that I’ve got my own internal account manager. That means a whole lot to me. I can call her, or email her, and she gets back to me. We can bounce ideas off each other, things to make sales grow. So it just feels to me like it’s a team effort. I didn’t feel that with the other companies.” - Rosie Gordon, Co-Owner, Sushi-Zen

The Results: More Sales and More Happy Customers

In fewer than four years, Sushi-Zen has served over 30,000 orders and made more than $2.5 million via ChowNow. Compared to what the restaurant would have paid in commissions with other online ordering providers, Gordon and team saved over $500,000.

This long-lasting partnership has also been successful for Sushi-Zen’s customers and staff. Gordon proudly states, “We really improved employee satisfaction. That’s a big one.” 

Her message to other restaurateurs? “If they want to make more and keep more of their own money, they should use ChowNow.”

“Your bottom line will thank you for the decision to use ChowNow. They have the best rates and really great customer service. As an independent restaurant owner, it means a lot to have team support that helps us become more profitable.” - Rosie Gordon, Co-Owner, Sushi-Zen

Photography by Jonathan Timmes.

If you want to replicate Sushi-Zen’s success at your restaurant, get in touch with one of our online ordering experts. You’ll discuss your unique business needs and see how we can partner up.