Sushi restaurants are now found in almost every big city across the globe and sushi is loved by millions of people. The margin on sushi and sashimi is indeed good for the restaurant industry, but not nearly as good as one would expect. Customers believe sushi to be a very costly commodity, which let’s restaurants to price their menus accordingly. However, this is not done out of greed, but the need to generate profits to stay in business.

Note that Sushi’s requirement for very fresh raw fish mandates sushi businesses to precisely predict demand. Unfortunately this means waste and loss on slow days. But some restaurants more bothered with revenue than quality might still serve their fish which has turned a bit unusual. Reputable sushi chefs would never think to serve even slightly spoiled product.

How Much Do Sushi Chefs Earn Yearly?

According to reports, general managers of sushi restaurants earn more than average. Sushi chefs usually earn within the range of $30K to $70K per year, which is a higher ceiling than a standard chef.

Have it in mind that fish bought for sushi tends to be more costly than fish sold for cooking, about 25-50% more. Likened to the retail market, part of what drives this is perception. The wholesalers charge more because the market allows it and has lower volume. However, the bigger driver for enormous wholesale prices is the special handling required for fish intended to be eaten raw.

The Estimated Profit Potential of a Sushi Restaurant and the Profit Margin

Fresh and delicious sushi requires high quality fresh ingredients and that is what really makes it expensive. This meal requires a fish that is good enough to be considered ‘sushi grade’ and they are always very expensive.

Some of the finest quality fish used in a Sushi meal, such as tuna, can cost hundreds per pound. Some of the best sushi restaurants will import their fish from local sources, as well as directly from Japan. They will not only have to factor in the cost of transportation, but also the fact that this highly sought after fish carries an enormous premium.

These sushi restaurants make money by charging customers for the act of preparing and serving sushi. Some restaurants also make money by selling other dishes and/or selling alcohol. Restaurant sushi can cost up to $18.00 a roll. Ready-made sushi at a local grocery store costs between $7.00 and $9.00 for one roll.

To make tasty sushi, a chef or a restaurant only needs to spend approximately $2 on 5 sheets of Seaweed, $2 on chicken breast, $1 on avocado, $1 on Asparagus spears, $1 on sushi rice, and at least $6 on other ingredients like rice vinegar, brown sugar, teriyaki sauce, and wasabi. This pegs the cost of making 5 rolls of sushi at $11 – which comes out to $2.20 per roll.

However, the exact selling price of sushi tends to vary according to location and chef, a single roll of sushi costs an average of $6.50, whereas specialty rolls are an average of $12.60. If the restaurant charges for alcohol, those prices will vary based on alcohol type, alcohol amount, and brand.

This leaves the profit margin on a Sushi meal at $4.30, which is almost 93% mark-up. But have it in mind that making sushi is very labour intensive and it is all factored into the final price. Each of the rolls must be made by hand, putting together the delicate and fresh ingredients carefully and arranging them artfully on the plate. A platter of sushi offers a visual treat, so a lot of work goes into the presentation of the dish.

Prices must reflect the worst of times; wholesale may be low today, high tomorrow. Restaurants can’t change the retail price as frequently as wholesale suppliers or customers would be outraged. The more reason why many traditional and high-end sushi-ya will not list prices and it’s left to the chef to work within a customers’ budget.

The modern trend is for sushi restaurants to adopt a “prix fixe” menu called “omakase” traditionally, which is usually on the higher side.

However, the average profit of a restaurant is a little over $82,000. But any good entrepreneur can increase their own profit if they offer unique dishes, good marketing strategies, and a meal experience that their immediate community cannot find anywhere else.

Conclusion

Well-prepared sushi has incredibly fresh, subtle flavours and an amazing mouth-feel that cannot be found in any other food. The various ingredients come alive and complement each other in a way that is simply mind blowing and the experience of feasting on an array of beautifully presented plates is a treat for the senses.

As a Sushi restaurant owner or manager, do not be afraid to enhance your menu with more dishes, seasonal variations, and signature foods to bring in more customers. Try to throw special parties throughout the year that correspond to national and community events.

Joy Nwokoro