When Arigatai Sushi Fusion opened its doors in 2020, husband and wife team Adriana Vethencourt and Ruben Salvatierra were excited to bring their unique twist on Latin-Asian fusion cuisine to the North Miami neighborhood of Bal Harbor.
Combining beautifully prepared sushi dishes and exotic Asian fare with the flavors of Venezuela, the restaurant was an immediate hit. But just ten days after opening, with the city suddenly in lockdown, the new business had to close its doors.
But in Japanese, Arigatai means to be grateful, so this team of restaurateurs wasn’t about to give up on bringing this cultural mix to the community. And this North Miami neighborhood was certainly grateful when the owners took a tough situation and turned it around in an instant.
“I had planned to think about delivery later,” Adriana explained, “I thought it would be something we’d get to after we opened, but after having to close our doors and let (our staff) go, I had to think fast.”
In an effort to keep the business afloat, Adriana started partnering with all of the delivery platforms. “We did what we had to do,” she recalled, “ but they took a big chunk of our profits.”
“That’s when we decided to focus on optimizing our online menu and make it easy for customers to customize their orders.”
“We also started to work with Sauce at that time, not just because they let customers order directly through our website and social media, but because they would connect us with a pool of drivers that are chosen based on which one is closest..”–because, in the sushi game, freshness is everything, so quick delivery is critical.
“It was also very important to us to be able to contact our customers because we cater to a very special community, some with strict dietary restrictions.”
To meet the specific dietary requests of their guests, it’s important to have the ability to stay in touch with customers in case they have questions or to let them know if an ingredient is out of stock.
“To satisfy the needs of our guests we have to be flexible, so we offer our customers the ability to make substitutions or replace ingredients right on our website. We try to tailor every order to the specific needs of our guests and they really appreciate that.”
Adriana stressed that there are two keys to running a successful business. The first one is the customer.
“We can’t do anything without our customers so we bend over backward to offer delicious, fresh, and beautifully presented dishes. Anything our customers want or need, we are happy to oblige.”
The second ingredient is service. “Presentation is everything to us and with our delivery orders, we want to make sure that the food arrives quickly and looks precisely the way it appears on social media” she continued.
“Because delivery is our brand.”
As business picked up, word got around the neighborhood, and by the time the doors were able to reopen, and they were able to bring their staff back, the restaurant had already developed a loyal customer base.
“In the food business, you have to be able to think on your feet and without a doubt, delivery saved us. But even once we opened again, and our dining room business began to pick up, we were still very busy with our delivery business,” she added.
“Presentation, ambiance, and the dining experience are a huge part of our brand’s image, but our servers were so busy juggling pick-up, delivery, and take-out that they weren’t able to focus on making sure the dining room customers had a memorable and wonderful experience every time they came in.”
That’s when Adriana decided to create a dedicated delivery coordinator position to manage online orders, taking the pressure off of the wait staff.
“By creating a position that focuses solely on delivery and pick-up orders, our servers were freed up to spend time doing what they do best–servicing customers.”
The delivery coordinator is given a print-out of every order placed which lists every ingredient, any special requests, and any substitutions.
“They go through every ingredient and special request one by one, line-by-line, crossing off items as they go,” Adriana explained.
The receipt, with all of these details and notes, is then stapled to the delivery bag so customers can see that everything was checked and double-checked carefully so they can enjoy their meal with confidence.
“I wish I would have created this position earlier,” Adriana expressed, “But if I had to offer other restaurants a piece of advice it would be to invest in this position to help balance off-premise orders with in-person dining.”
A culinary journey, 23 years in the making, Adriana and Reuben are passionate about bringing their unique Japanese-fusion cuisine to the North Miami community that’s embraced their family.
Offering take-out, delivery, catering, and in-person dining, with fun events and live music, Araigatai is more than just a dining destination; it’s an experience. Blending the simplicity of sushi making with the bold flavors of Japanese and Latin cuisine, Arigatai serves only the highest quality dishes using the freshest ingredients.
From mouthwatering apps like tiraditos, crunchy bites, and buns to poke bowls, rolls, and kitchen specialties, any night of the week can be made a bit more colorful with a meal from Arigatai. And when it’s Friday night, and you want sushi (because who doesn’t?) Arigatai offers a variety of family-size meals, romantic dinners, and sushi platters.
Many of the restaurant’s recipes are steeped in Venezeualn family traditions. Growing up in the food business, Adriana credits many of her recipes and passion for the food business to her father whose Latin-inspired recipes are part of what makes Arigatai’s menu unique.
“My dad’s recipes have had a big influence on our menu. Our goal when we opened three years ago was to take the flavors of Venezuela, combine them with our love for sushi, and develop a wide-ranging menu filled with delicious Asian fare.”
Arigatai uses Adriana’s father’s fruit-infused sauce recipes for items like the Tiradito, a South American creation dating back to the late 19th century that combines thinly sliced fresh sashimi with bold Latin flavors. With a combination of tropical fruits and uniquely Venezuelan ingredients, customers rave for their selection of this dish, the epitome of Latin-Asian fusion.
- Tuna, Salmon, Ebi (Shrimp), and Hamachi Tiraditos
- Salmon and Tuna Tartar
- Sushi Tacos
- Katsu Chicken and Pork Belly Buns
- Grilled Arigatai Miso Sea Bass
- Salmon, Beef, and Chicken Teriyaki
- Seared Tuna Steak
- Poke Bowls
- Soybean and Rice Paper Rolls
- Signature Rolls
- Riceless Rolls
With staff back to full capacity, customers enjoy seeing Adriana, Ruben, and their cute little boy Ale every day at this family-run establishment. And their passion for what they do is evident.
“Quality is at the top of our list but our customers are still at the center of everything we do.”
“We owe a great deal of gratitude to the entire North Miami community for their patience and support during our opening,” Adriana added. “So we’d like to say Arigaita – thank you so much!”
See the article at Getsauce!