Restaurant of The Month of February: BeShock
Have you ever had a drink that completely altered the course of your life? For BeShock’s successful 29-year-old co-founder Ayaka Ito, this is exactly what happened to her. One sip and she was filled with overwhelming feelings of joy and pride of her home country.
Ayaka was born in Japan, but it wasn’t until she returned on a trip to aid the villages that were demolished after the 2011 tsunami that she found her life’s calling. She was relaxing with the other volunteers and the villagers after a long day of helping rebuild their neighborhood when she was offered a glass of sake (to be specific, she was offered a glass of Ichinokura Sake). After taking her first sip, she knew this would change her life.
Ayaka’s new passion in life was to show the world the beauty of sake and the Japanese culture. Ayaka went on to get her ‘Sake Master’ certification in Japan, which is equivalent to a sommelier for sake.
In 2013, she came up with the idea to start her own ramen restaurant to bring her passion to life. She spent the next year eating 10 bowls of ramen A DAY! She did this in order to taste every kind of ramen available, from the seasonings to the kinds of noodles and broth. She noticed that some ramen was too heavy, others not satisfying, while still others were in no way healthy for you.
Ayaka had the vision to create a ramen that portrayed the traditional Japanese culture, while also creating a ‘soul food’ for San Diegans. She wanted to create comfort food for her customers so they would keep coming back again and again, but didn’t want to hurt their health in the process.
Ayaka’s research for her perfect ramen restaurant did not stop at 10 bowls a day. She asked around to find out everyone’s favorite place. She was surprised when she heard time and time again, “I can’t remember the name, but it’s in Clairemont.” Ayaka knew that whatever she named her restaurant it had to stick out in people’s minds.
Ayaka’s dedication to her vision certainly didn’t stop there. In 2015, BeShock Ramen & Sake Bar opened to the public in Downtown San Diego’s East Village. The word ‘beshock’ in Japanese means ‘gastronomy,’ which is the ‘beauty of food.’ Since its opening in 2015, BeShock has been “shocking” its customers by showing them the beauty of the food and beverage of the Japanese culture.
When our staff interviewed Ayaka, we were sincerely blown away by the detail that went into BeShock. The amount of time and energy that she dedicated to make this restaurant flourish truly shows in the satisfaction of its customers.
When we asked her what her biggest struggle is in running a restaurant, she share two things: “It was a different process and managing employees.” She went on to tell us how opening a restaurant has a series of licenses and other things that all need approval before opening and that employees are hard to keep around. She found that the process of finding employees became easier once she began sharing her vision of the company with them.
Keeping up the energy and staying positive is the key to having a good team. No matter what else is going on in your life, come into work with a smile and be positive. Your attitude transcends to your staff.
Ayaka’s passion for sake and people has helped her create an extremely successful restaurant and she plans on opening more locations in the future.
We asked what her favorite BeShock dishes are and she said “Everything!” (as she should). She then told us that if she HAD to pick, it would be:
Sake: Ichinokura Sake
Ramen: Miso Ramen
Dessert: Sake Ice Cream
If you haven’t had a chance to check out BeShock Ramen & Sake Bar in East Village, make sure you check it out! You can see the details and the love for people that co-founder Ayaka put into developing this restaurant.
Interviewed by Casey Nicole Fox & Jennifer Meim
Written by Casey Nicole Fox