Although new to the restaurant industry, Evan and Ian Clifford are certainly not new to transforming innovative ideas into successful businesses. The pair worked together to develop ZENN Motor Company, a preeminent electric vehicle company launched in 2001. Now, the uncle-and-nephew team is doing something new, bold and exciting: they’re opening the world’s first 100 per cent Ocean Wise sushi restaurant as a take-out joint in the west end of Toronto.
The pair has an eye for seeing what the world needs, and making it happen. Living in the Humber Bay area of Toronto, Evan noticed that with the condo development and population boom, the area needed more food options. By 2012, Evan had developed a business model for a take-out style sushi restaurant that offered its customers with easy mobile ordering options and “room service” style delivery.
He asked his uncle Ian to join him in his venture, and the two began to educate themselves more on the issue of overfishing. The pair realized that if they were going to claim their restaurant venture as sustainable, they needed to go all the way. They decided to commit to Vancouver Aquarium’s Ocean Wise program because of its relevance in the Canadian market and its rigorous standards for determining sustainable fisheries and aquaculture projects. Serendipitously, they met Ocean Wise at a Toronto trade show, and the collaboration began.
Just Sushi, the name of this new venture, has incorporated a range of green business practices into its operations, including interior walls made of 120-year-old reclaimed wood, compostable take-out containers, electric scooters that will deliver the sushi locally in the high-density neighbourhood, and a giant 250 square foot living wall (a self-sustaining vertical wall garden) inside the restaurant, designed to clean the air as well as provide yet another natural “wow” factor.
With regards to sourcing ocean-friendly seafood, the restaurant has gone all the way. Evan and Ian hired a young, creative head sushi chef who has embraced the sustainability model, and thinks outside the box to create a unique and delicious menu with Ocean Wise recommended items.
Just Sushi opens soon at 12A Brookers Lane in Toronto, and will feature 100 per cent Ocean Wise seafood options, the first sushi restaurant to do so.
To learn more about Ocean Wise, Vancouver Aquarium’s national sustainable seafood initiative, visit its website here. Look for the Ocean Wise symbol wherever you enjoy seafood for the Aquarium’s assurance of ocean-friendly options.
By Robin Poirier, Ocean Wise Account Representative, Eastern Canada