If the pandemic taught us anything best, it would be to prioritize our health. Hence, the quarantine created a season of self-management—the era of home exercises and healthy eating. No longer are the days of devouring junk food that only brings us closer to health problems. Thankfully, there’s a new rising Japanese convenience store-styled pop-up in the city that offers healthy snacks which could replace the usual salty chips.
SuperHai's current menu presents deluxe Japanese snacks calibrated for the Chicagoan taste. They have Karaage nuggets, bento boxes, curry pan, Korroke, milk bread sandwiches, and their best-seller, spicy smoked salmon onigiri with prices ranging from $4-15. Soon, they will establish a small rotating menu allowing more snacks to be enjoyed by the customers.
The business intends to combine the concepts of konbini (Japanese convenience store) and the New York bodega. Ken and Jane shared this idea upon seeing that Midwest doesn’t have much precedence in this department. They want to bring that culture to this area. “I believe we will be able to execute [it] with the refinement of the konbini and the soul of the New York bodega, that’s the goal,” they said.
It’s safe to say that this business is a pandemic baby. Having been laid off in the middle of the crisis, they took this opportunity to manifest what used to be a business idea. In doing so, they like to have fun and not take things too seriously, to take things slow. Even so, they are sincere in creating the change that they want to see in the restaurant industry. Both having worked in the service industry for a long time, they know what it’s like in the business. They want to create a better environment for them both and for their future employees.
Though, their dream doesn’t stop within themselves, it also transcends towards other AAPI businesses. Admitting that it has been a tough year for Asian Americans with the undeserving hatred and racism towards the community, they want to collaborate with more Asian-run businesses as they grow and to also support them through their platform. They would like to communicate the Asian-American experience through their food. “We hope to create and serve a community through these shared experiences and flavors with other Asian Americans in the area,” they added.
They believe they can positively shine a spotlight on the younger Asian American community that often goes underrepresented. It’s their hope to establish a positive environment that will make the community proud and feel properly represented. With this, their advice for those who are just starting their businesses: step back and don’t lose the bigger picture by obsessing over tiny details. They suggest learning to roll with the punches, saying that literally nothing will go as expected. Also, to not be too hard on yourself.
Having their own New York-style konbini brick-and-mortar store is the goal. For the meantime, their snacks can be enjoyed in pop-ups, markets, and events happening this summer.
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