Sometimes it's good to shake things up in the restaurant business, and the owners of the Tokyo House hope that's the case.
Hyuntae and Susan Song have operated the Bellingham restaurant at 1222 N. Garden St. for 11 years with little change to the menu and atmosphere. That changed a few weeks ago when they put in a 25-foot sushi conveyor belt, brought in new staff and revamped their marketing campaign to attract new customers.
So far the introduction of the sushi belt has been a hit, said Lauren Boushey, an employee at the restaurant. Dozens of dishes rotate around the counter area of the restaurant, giving customers a chance to grab something that appeals to them.
"During our customer appreciation events we had people lining up out the door," Boushey said.
Sushi conveyor belts are trendy these days, and the Songs have noted the success locally at Kuru Kuru Sushi on Bellwether Way. Boushey said new and regular customers seem to be enjoying the change. Regulars can sample some of the appetizers while waiting for their entrees, while new customers who aren't familiar with the different sushi dishes can see it before ordering it.
"It's really great for people who may not have been as enthused about sushi to see what's offered," Boushey said. "It's also great for families with kids; they order something they see and not a lot of food is wasted that way."
The changes also have altered the way they run the restaurant, said James Song, chef and manager.
"This is a much faster way to make and present sushi," James Song said. "I've enjoyed the switch."
The restaurant's proximity to Western Washington University has traditionally made it popular with students, so the owners are working on ways to connect with them through social media by offering customer appreciation discounts and membership cards. The owners also are thinking about opening the restaurant on Sundays.
Tokyo House is open 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. for lunch and 5 to 8:30 p.m. for dinner. For details, visit the restaurant's Facebook page or call 360-714-0500.
FURNITURE STORE AIMING FOR NOV. 1 OPENING
Ryan and Jennifer McKee are busy putting the finishing touches on Red Tag Furniture Consignment, which is scheduled to open Thursday, Nov. 1, next to V's Barbershop at Bakerview Square.
Ryan McKee said they plan on focusing on brand name home furnishings at discount prices in the 4,000-square-foot store. The McKees also own Plum Chic, a women's consignment store also at Bakerview Square.
Ryan McKee said Plum Chic is off to a good start since opening this past summer. While many of the customers are from Whatcom County and lower British Columbia, the store is seeing a steady stream of customers from Skagit and Snohomish counties.
"We thought this (the consignment business model) is a good way to partner with the community," McKee said.
A phone number for the Red Tag store will be available soon. In the meantime, those looking for more information can email email@example.com or visit the company's Facebook page.
Once open, store hours will be 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday.
Café Rumba, the Peruvian restaurant at 1140 N. State St. in Bellingham, has applied for a state liquor license to sell beer and wine.
Bellingham Bay Coffee Roasters continues to expand where it sells its products, according to its Facebook page. Last week the coffee company started selling products in the Barkley, Sehome and Meridian Haggen stores.
Last week's announcement about grocery company WinCo Foods filing a building permit to go into the former Joe's Sporting Goods building prompted a few questions from readers about the permitting process. According to city planner Brian Smart, with the design review of the building on East Bellis Fair Parkway being completed last year, the public comment period for this project is now over. The city is reviewing the submitted remodeling plans and will contact WinCo's architect in early November about any concerns/changes needed from a building code standpoint.
Chuckanut Brewery & Kitchen won two silver medals from the Great American Beer Festival in Denver on Oct. 13. The Bellingham brewery placed second for its Chuckanut Kolsch beer and a Vienna lager. This year's festival had 4,338 entries by 666 breweries in 84 countries, according to a news release.
Last week the National Retail Federation predicted that this year's holiday sales will be up 4.1 percent, to $586.1 billion. According to the survey, around 40 percent will begin holiday shopping before Halloween, while more than half surveyed said they will do some holiday shopping online.
Retail Tip Sheet runs each Sunday.
Reach DAVE GALLAGHER at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 715-2269. Visit his business blog online at blogs.bellinghamherald.com/business or get updates on Twitter at twitter.com/BhamHeraldBiz.