When the concept for the first sushi restaurant was being developed in 1999, Michelle Ezell, her husband, Sean, sister, Leah, and cousin, Tara, looked for names that had an Asian influence.
They settled on Tsunami, which can be defined as “a force that comes into a community and takes hold of it."
They had a vision in mind for a powerful force that would take over their community — but in a good way. Their imaginations have led to a successful restaurant enterprise which anchors downtown Lafayette’s restaurant scene at 412 Jefferson St.
Michele Simon Ezell spoke with Jan Swift of the Discover Lafayette podcast. You can listen to their conversation here.
Their adventure began on a trip to Los Angeles to visit her sister for New Years’ Eve in 1998. A big fan of sushi, Michele often visited New Orleans, the nearest city that offered fresh and authentically prepared Japanese sushi and sashimi. Feeling giddy about the opportunity to enjoy great sushi which was abundantly available in L.A., she was encouraged and convinced by friends and family at that dinner to open a restaurant Lafayette -- despite never having worked in a restaurant.
Developing Tsunami was a family affair, with cousin Tara designing the logo and helping come up with the restaurant’s name. Damian, Michele’s brother, who was working in Miami at a harbor with access to fresh fish, came home and assisted in running the restaurant.
The first location of Tsunami opened in Lafayette in 2000, and the second location in downtown Baton Rouge overlooking the Mississippi River followed in 2004. They recently opened a New Orleans location in the Pan American Center Life Center on Poydras Street.
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