retail news in context, analysis with attitude

by Kevin Coupe

On the culinary front, my driving trip cross-country already is paying dividends. On Tuesday, I was treated to a wonderful lunch at a fast-food places called Fusian ... and the best way to describe this little jewel is to say that it is like Chipotle, except with sushi and chopsticks.

Founded by three Ohio natives about five years ago, Fusian has developed into an eight-store business with units in Cincinnati, Columbus and Dayton. I visited one of the Dayton stores, in a shopping area adjacent to the University, and from the moment walks in, the vibe is friendly and totally accessible. One can build one's own sushi roll from the wide range of ingredients listed on a couple of big menu boards; in my case, it being my first time there, I sort of started with salmon and let the people behind the counter build it for me ... and it was delicious. There are some fountain iced teas and lemonades available, as well as beer ... and if you want a more traditional soft drink, those are available, too.

But what occurred to me while enjoying my Fusian meal is the fact that it once again proves that the fast food experience does not have to reek of artificiality. From the simple design elements to the use of local foods, from the ways in which it looks to connect to the community to its out-front approach to sustainability issues, Fusian is nothing if not authentic.

And the thins is, it is a lot more ... because it also is delicious. If I had one near me, I'd be such a regular that I'd probably be annoying.

Pictures are below. Fusian's website can be accessed here.

I suspect that this is a concept that's going to have legs, and that these guys are either going to roll out on their own, or sell to someone who can do it for them. I wouldn't even be surprised to see it - or something like it - pop up in supermarkets who want to ramp up the sushi experience a little bit.

Fusian is a winner.

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