By taking nigiri down-market, Ryuji Ishii’s Advanced Fresh Concepts made raw fish an American fast food.
Advanced Fresh Concepts (AFC) sells more sushi than anyone else in America — nearly $250 million worth of its Southern Tsunami brand nigiri and makimono each year. That’s 300 tons of fish, 20 million sheets of seaweed, and 1.9 million pounds of rice. The Rancho Dominguez, Calif., company operates sushi stands in supermarkets from Alaska to Alabama, relying largely on franchisees. AFC’s California rolls — which account for half the company’s sales — win newspaper taste tests despite costing less than $5. “I can keep quality high because volume keeps costs down,” says founder Ryuji Ishii. Here’s how he turned raw fish into a U.S. supermarket staple.