Exterior - Night 2 - Bill LaFevor-Studio8Design_smI have a latest obsession: Zumi Sushi in Hillsboro Village. I love that is is so clean, efficient and friendly.  I also like that I can meet a friend for lunch or take my kids with equal ease.  Lastly, while it is counter service (with a strong nod to the SatCo setup) I love that they bring your food to you and clean up your table when you are done….all with strict rules not to tip!  I hear lots of people say it’s like a Japanese Pei Wei. It’s nestled down there near McDougals and The Dog of Nashville on Belcourt. Oh-and the food?  Excellent.  Myself and three kids have eaten for $32 (all water to drink) and then two adults with appetizer, two soups, three kid meals and sushi for us with three fountain drinks came in at $60. Owner, Patrick Burke, answers my questions below.  Hope to see you at Zumi soon!

I know you graduated from Vanderbilt.  But that’s about it.  Sooooo, tell me, when did you graduate and in what did you major?


I graduated in 2002 with Political Science and Psychology majors, and again in 2007 with my law and MBA degrees… I’m a big Vandy fan!

Where are you from originally?

Louisville, KY.  Pretty much been in Nashville for over 10 years now total with stints in Atlanta and New York mixed in.

Did you grow up in an entrepreneurial family?

Not really.  My father was an attorney, mother was a teacher.  My grandfather was an entrepreneur, but I was never old enough to appreciate what was happening with his businesses.

When did you come up with the idea for Zumi?

The idea for Zumi was born in graduate school when I was tired of eating burritos, chicken fingers, sandwiches, and other typically affordable food from “fast casual” style eateries.  I wanted to eat healthier but was always on the run, with no time to cook, and I started eating sushi more often and getting it for takeout.  I started noticing things that I thought could be improved about how sushi restaurants operated and delivered service (most importantly, being faster and providing better value).  As I became less interested in working and living in New York City, I slowly warmed up to the idea of starting the concept in Nashville.

How long from inspiration to execution?

My first inspiration for the concept was really in April 2006 (probably while eating sushi).  I was finishing school until May 2007, then after that I was organizing the company, looking for the right location, and getting all the pieces together… while the economy was falling out.  We found our location in late summer 2008, and launched May 12, 2009!

What does Zumi mean?

The word Zumi has no literal meaning apart from the experience people have while at Zumi, which is the way I wanted it.  Zumi presents a totally new experience in the world of sushi, and I wanted our name to reflect our concept’s originality.

What do you want each person to experience when eating at Zumi?

The fresh flavors and healthiness of the food, in a way that fits their schedule that day – whether it’s grabbing takeout, having a quick lunch break from work, or lingering on our deck.  We are here to help people improve the way they eat, however we can, by meeting them wherever they are in their schedule.

Are there plans to expand?

My goal is to change the way Nashvillians perceive sushi and its health benefits as part of their weekly (or daily, in some of our customers’ cases) routine, and to improve the way people eat generally.  If other neighborhoods and communities want to embrace Zumi’s approach to sushi like this neighborhood has, and we can be a part of it, I would love to do so.

Does Zumi cater?

We are starting to right now!  Our catering menu should be ready to roll by the end of September… Just in time for the holidays.

Can you put together a fun suggested meal off your menu for take out for a party for eight with some suggested drinks?

For starters, definitely the Poke, sauteed Edamame (two of them if you want more than two for yourself), and the Chicken Yakitori skewers.  Get two orders of nigiri, salmon and tuna.  Then try the Rich Heat, Black & Gold, Great Flood, Pacific Queen & Tropical Crunch, and Spicy Tuna rolls.  For folks who aren’t yet on the sushi bandwagon, get a Spicy Chic roll, the Chile Shrimp, and the Basil Mango Curry.

Slowest night?  Busiest night?

Monday is the easiest night to get a table.  Friday is our busiest night, but since we are a quicker-service concept there’s almost always a table.

Three things you can’t live without (can’t be friends, family or God):

Since I bought it last week, my iPhone!   You’ve taken out the three main ones, so…  Traveling to and discovering new places (for sure), and great wine.

What is your favorite book you’ve read in the past year?

Wild at Heart

What are your top ten most played songs on your iPod?

I should have more local artists on it like Dave Barnes (still on the CD, haven’t downloaded in iTunes yet) but here goes:

  • In the Waiting Line – Zero 7
  • Johnny Cash – Jason Aldean
  • Sneaker Pimps – 6 Underground
  • All I Need – Air
  • Dani California – Red Hot Chili Peppers
  • Red Dust – Zero 7
  • Rock and Roll Ain’t Noise Pollution – AC/DC
  • Southernplayalistic – Outkast
  • Free and Easy – Dierks Bentley
  • Owner of a Lonely Heart – Yes

zumiFor more info on Zumi, check out this review by the awesome Carrington Fox at the Nashville Scene.

If y’all have not been to Zumi, do yourself a favor and GO!  I love local and you know small cafes have a soft spot in my heart.  Enjoy your day, -Liza