ROCHESTER, N.Y. — A trio of minority business owners have joined forces to bring authentic Japanese cuisine to Rochester.
Growing up, Michael Goode experienced a unique heritage, one tied mainly to food.
"It’s not like either my mother or father took a central role," Goode said. "They both cooked, so I got, you know, the best of both worlds."
His father was an African American from New Orleans, and his mother is an immigrant from Japan.
And after growing up here, his mother and he opened a ramen shop on Alexander Street in 2017.
"I sell myself as authentic Japanese, but you’re really getting a touch of like my mother’s cooking," Goode said.
Since then, his business has continued to grow. And in late 2019, ROC City Ramen opened a second location on Exchange Boulevard. But he’s not alone.
Earlier this year, Maria Whitney and Brenda Perkins joined him as Keep It Rollin’ Sushi, just days before orange zone restrictions limited them to take out only.
"We were really worried that we were going to fail right as we started, but Rochester sushi people came out for us," Perkins said.
Both women have 25 years of experience in sushi.
"It’s art that you can eat. It’s beautiful, it’s delicious, it’s fresh," Perkins said.
In fact, Whitney says she was the first professional female sushi chef in Rochester.
"Where I started, to where I am now… I’m getting emotional," Whitney said.
And though they’ve worked together for a long time, this is the first time either of them have owned a business.
"Sometimes I just feel like I work here. Like I forget. And then, it’s amazing, it’s like, oh yeah, this is ours. This is our baby," Perkins said.
And now working with Goode, Perkins compares them all to the Three Musketeers.
"He always has us laughing, so it’s really great working with Michael. We all get along," Perkins said.
Goode says it's important to support one another. Not just as minorities, but small business owners.
"It’s great to see two women in the sushi business. It's even better to see them opening up their own business, and me being allowed to be a part of that opportunity," Goode said.