Celebrating 20 years of Way Yum Sushi at BriarPatch Food Co-op

An interview with Laura Thorne, owner of Way Yum Sushi

Tell us about how you got started.
I started Way Yum Sushi in 1997. Before that, I was bringing special needs children into regular classrooms to help give them a better education, but then I got injured and had to make a shift. I knew how to make sushi so… I started a sushi business. In the beginning, I was just serving people who were coming up to Harmony Ridge Market to ride their bikes to White Cloud. Somebody who would later become one of my accounts came in and said, “We would love to have your product in our store,” so I went out and got my wholesale certification. BriarPatch was one of my first accounts, and it was such an honor to work with a business that had the same high standards as the product I wanted to put out.

Where did you get the name?
In the beginning, it was called Sushi To Go. Then one day while I was making sushi, this guy came in said, “Ee-ew, what are you doing making sushi?” I made him come over and taste it and he looked at me and said, “Wow, that’s way yum!” That’s how Way Yum Sushi came about. I tried to contact that guy on our 10-year anniversary, but maybe he was just passing through because I couldn’t find him. But I really appreciated him coming into my business that day!

Who eats your sushi?
Many of them are people who have gone through trauma such that haven’t been able to eat a normal diet. My sushi has been what they’ve been eating for years to get back on their feet and get healthy again. That feels really good to me.

What ingredients are you most proud of?
Above all, my rice, which is Lundberg Organic Sushi Rice. I drive out to Lundberg Family Farms every six weeks and pick up six hundred pounds of it. I love that place; the people are wonderful. And I love the way they rotate their fields to keep the rice and land as healthy as it can be.

Tell us a little about your relationship with BriarPatch.
I’ve watched it grow from its old location to the new location and I just can’t express how much I adore the people who work there and the standards of what goes on their shelves.

What is it like to be a local business for more than 20 years?
Well, last November I rolled my one millionth sushi roll, and that felt amazing. I would like to send a big shout out to this community and to BriarPatch for 20 years of unbelievable joy in my life. If it wasn’t for this community, Way Yum Sushi wouldn’t be in existence, obviously!

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