1. Please briefly describe your business.
Making Local Work: Little Tokyo 080812 BUSINESS 1 Capital City Weekly 1. Please briefly describe your business.

Photos By Mary Giuliani / Capital City Weekly

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Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Story last updated at 8/8/2012 - 1:07 pm

Making Local Work: Little Tokyo

1. Please briefly describe your business.

Little Tokyo is a full service Japanese restaurant with a great sushi bar as well as other Japanese dishes.

2. When did your business begin? Did you see a niche to fill, is there a story behind it?

We had our Juneau Grand Opening on July 4. We opened Little Tokyo in Sitka in 2004. We felt that Juneau needed a full service Japanese restaurant. There are a few places in Juneau that have sushi but most of them are serving a combination of sushi and Chinese food or something else. We had such a great response in Sitka to the full service concept that we wanted to bring the same experience to Juneau.

3. How many employees do you have?

We have 11-12 here in Juneau at Little Tokyo alone. Sitka's Little Tokyo has 8-9 and then altogether with our other restaurants - Kenny's Juneau, Kenny's Sitka and Pizza Roma in Sitka we have almost 50 employees.

4. How do you select them?

For our sushi chefs, we recruit through an oriental paper based in Seattle. We currently have two sushi chefs with more than 20 years experience and we have another very experienced one coming soon. For all our wait and service staff both front of the house and back of the house, we hire local workers. We personally interview each of them and look for people who are good team players.

5. What are your biggest triumphs?

We have a fantastic location here in Juneau. We have great employees, experienced chefs and good food at the right price. I believe we have the best food in town.

6. What are your most common hurdles (i.e., shipping)?

I would say staffing. It's a challenge sometimes to find good employees that will stay for a long time. For many, the bottom line is money and there are a lot of people who will change jobs for better pay. It's a loss of investment for us because we have put a lot of time into their training.

7. What work practices do you try and maintain in order to serve the community the best that you can?

We try to buy as many supplies locally that we can. We buy our salmon locally from Alaska Glacier Seafoods and consumables from Sysco. We also pride ourselves in offering a dining experience that is parallel to other restaurants outside Alaska. We have the same offerings as restaurants in the Lower 48 and we are happy to bring this here to Juneau.

8. What are your favorite things about your business?

We like to think that we have homestyle cooking in the sense that everything is made from scratch and with the freshest ingredients. We love to see our customers happy and enjoying their meal and it really makes us happy when our customers tell us how much the enjoy the food and service.

9. Are there any interesting facts or information that the community might not know about your business?

I'm a 32-year restaurant veteran and my wife has 30 years experience in the restaurant business. A long time ago I had a restaurant in Anchorage and one in Sitka. I would fly through Juneau on trips back and forth. At one time there was a full Japanese restaurant here called Kyoto but that was about 30 years ago and I just kept thinking that if I opened another one that it would be well received here. So far, the response has been overwhelming.

10. Where do you see your business in 5, 10 years?

I want to constantly grow and improve the businesses in both Juneau and Sitka. At the same time, I want to make sure that the restaurant maintains it's good food and good service. That will keep my family happy and our customers happy, which is the most important thing.

Making Local Work is a biweekly feature made possible by Alaska Pacific Bank. To feature your Southeast Alaskan business, email