Kome' Sushi Kitchen expands using Austin's Family Business Loan Program

Austin has consistently ranked as one of the best places in the country to operate a small business. Today, the City of Austin highlighted one of its programs that helps keep these small businesses expanding.

AUSTIN - The staff at Kome' Sushi Kitchen chant, "Irasshai mase! Irasshai mase!" when customers are seated.

It means "welcome" in Japanese. It's what regulars, like 5-year-old Kingsley and her father, Barry Fassauer, have come to expect when they dine at the new location on Airport Boulevard.

"They have given us many different things to try and it really catches us onto it. That's how she's developed a taste for many different things like the wasabi," said Fassauer.

They have also come to expect the high quality but affordable Japanese cuisine that has made Kome' so popular. 

Kome' owners, Take' and Kayo Asazu, first started making sushi and bento boxes in 2005. They sold them at farmers markets. That evolved to food trucks. That turned to the first brick-and-mortar shop in 2011.

And on Tuesday, Kome' held a grand re-opening at its second location, also on Airport Boulevard.

"I feel very fortunate to see so many costumers coming back to us," said Kayo Asazu.

The expansion was made possible through the City of Austin's Family Business Loan Program. It has helped 19 businesses expand, hiring more than 200 workers.

"We believe it's the mom-and-pop businesses that are the backbone of the stable economy in Austin," said Sylnovia Holt Rabb, the assistant director for economic development.

The loan, from HUD and a private lender, requires Kome' to hire some low-income residents, like Annie Wells, who said she's low income because she's a visual artist.

"It's good for my body, mind and soul to work here, truly," said Annie Wells, who works as a hostess.

Take' Asazu, the other half of the husband-and-wife Kome' team, can often be seen going table to table, talking to customers.

The 44-year-old arrived in Austin in the 1990s and started as a dishwasher, working 80 hours a week before becoming a sushi chef.

"It's so hard," said Asazu.

He said now owning one of the 48,000 or so small businesses in Austin isn't easy, but is well worth it.

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