Sitting in his office, Francisco Paez began his tale as Kumori co-owner with two brothers, no relation, Fernando and Eduardo Paez.
With 19 years of success behind him Paez said, “I had promised myself never to be in the restaurant business again. I had a terrible experience and said, ‘Never Again.’ I was living in Monterrey, Mexico, and saw how U.S. citizens liked sushi. I thought, ‘Let’s bring it to them.’”
Proposing the idea to his childhood friend, Fernando’s response was enthusiastic.
“Let’s do it!”
It took them about a year to get their first Kumori opened in McAllen.
“Everything was a challenge because of a different culture, different country, different way of working with employees. But, we’ve always been blessed and people have been very loyal. That is what has made us succeed,” Paez explained.
Several other factors have also contributed to their success.
“We adapted to our markets. For instance, Brownsville people like to eat more fish than here; San Antonio folk don’t like a lot of cheese. Each area is different and we adapted to each region and what people like.”
Another important component is the quality.
“We always aim for higher quality. If we’re going to change, it has to be for the better. Our motto is: The best quality at the best price possible.” Bringing in chefs from Japan and the Philippines to develop their menu shows the care they have for their restaurants.
With over 300 employees in their seven locations – four in McAllen, one in Brownsville and two in San Antonio – they are planning on at least three more restaurants. There will eventually be another one in San Antonio, one in Weslaco and one in Edinburg.
Since the business’s 20th anniversary is in 2017, they’re planning on a unique way of celebrating by finding a way to give back to the community, an important, ongoing element of their business.
“The most beautiful picture is having your restaurant packed with happy people,” said Paez. “It feels good to make something that other people can enjoy. It makes us feel very proud.”