Tulsa Restaurant Beating Bad Economy

Tuesday, January 13th 2009, 10:05 pm
By: News On 6

By Jennifer Loren, The News On 6

TULSA, OK - The economic crisis has forced many people to downsize instead of supersizing when it comes to eating out.  Restaurants across the country are shutting their doors, placing blame on the country's financial mess.  The same is true in Tulsa, but The News On 6 found one restaurant fighting back and winning.

If you buy a lot of fresh fish in Tulsa you're probably familiar with Bodean's. In the fish market, business has gone up 15% to 20% since September.

"When the retail sales go up, people are cooking more at home and not going out. And, that's what we've seen," said Gene Pounds with Bodean's.

Next door in their restaurant sales have slumped, dropping about 10%.

"It started in September. September, October, November we went below last year," said Gene Pounds with Bodean's.

And, he says, the economy has also taken a bite out of the fish they sell wholesale to other local restaurants which have also seen a drop in business.

One of those restaurants was Tsunami Sushi.  They recently closed their doors, placing part of the blame on the economy.  A handful of other restaurants, like Steak and Ale and Carrabbas, have also added to Tulsa's unemployment pool.

At another sushi restaurant, Fuji on Brookside, business fell more than 30% in September.  But, they're fighting back.

"If you think of like cash flow as the blood of the business, it's not pumping all the way through. So, we had to kind of re-analyze our system and we came up with the all you can eat as a way I think to kind of bring some of the excitement back to this location," said Andy Griffith with Fuji Japanese & Sushi.

The restaurant now offers $9.99 all you can eat sushi.  Instead of bringing in hundreds of dollars at lunch, Fuji now brings in thousands of dollars.  That leaves them with a lot on their plate in a hungry economy.

"It's more fun trying to keep up with the crowd now," said Andy Griffith with Fuji Japanese & Sushi.

According to a local businessman, Tulsa restaurateur Elliot Nelson plans to open a new high energy Asian-inspired restaurant in Tsunami's old downtown location.  No word when it will open.