Monday, June 24, 2019

New Soosh sushi counter. (Credit: Aviva Maller)

New dining room at Soosh. (Credit: Aviva Maller)

In September 2018, Soosh, a well known Stamford sushi restaurant, relocated to the local JCC and reopened with an expanded menu.

“Ari, my husband and the founder of Soosh, is passionate about the Jewish community. He rightfully realized that in order for the Stamford Jewish community to grow, it needed a kosher infrastructure,” shared Rica Lieberman, owner of Soosh. “Ari’s vision was to bring excellent quality kosher food, in a warm and upscale environment, to Stamford. The hope was that this restaurant would serve the current community and be an impetus to encourage new families to move to Stamford. In every way, Ari was right on the mark!”

“We love the name Soosh!” Lieberman stated, “It’s a fun and casual name, and certainly easy to remember! It perfectly reflects the brand we were hoping, and succeeded, in creating. When we first opened Soosh, we used to joke that it’s a place where ‘everyone knows your name’ like ‘Cheers!’ This didn’t happen by chance. We’ve always made a concerted effort to hire local community members at Soosh, both as managers and waiters, so that our guests would feel comfortable with our staff. We succeeded in creating an environment where our guests were welcomed as family.”

Lieberman described a true void of kosher dining options in Connecticut. “At the time we opened Soosh, the kosher market in Connecticut was quite limited and we felt it would be impossible to develop a restaurant business plan that relied solely on a target kosher market. Ari chose to open a sushi restaurant, not only because sushi is delicious, but also because he knew that if he offered high-quality sushi, he could attract both the kosher and non-kosher consumer.”

Soosh was originally located in the Crowne Plaza Hotel on Summer Street. “Unfortunately, the owners of the hotel had a different vision for the restaurant than we did. Soosh’s interest was always in serving the local Jewish community, while the hotel’s interest was in serving the tourist market,” Lieberman said. “As such, and actually, with a heavy heart, we had to part ways. Every cloud has a silver lining, and for Soosh, it was the JCC. From the moment we began negotiations with the JCC, we realized how truly blessed Soosh was to have found this wonderful location. Since our mission is to serve the Jewish community, the JCC is an ideal location for Soosh.”

Lieberman explained, “Before our move, Soosh’s identity was that of a sushi restaurant, with some fish entrees. In taking over the cafe at the JCC, we did not want to disrupt what was already there. We kept the existing cooks, Sam, Carmen and Betty, and most of the existing menu.” However, she noted, “We now offer sushi and pizza in addition to sandwiches and other delicious options. The black and white sushi rolls are a must try! So yummy, they melt in your mouth! Our falafel plate is also a signature dish! “

“We continue to provide employment for local community members and we partner with the Friendship Circle to offer employment to adults with disabilities,” Lieberman continued. “We offer the local community a clean, comfortable location for a casual family meal. This is what Soosh aspired to do when we opened and continues to aspire to, five years later, despite changing venues.”

“We have been living in the community for several years,” commented Stamford resident Rachel Maryles. “We go to the JCC a few times a week, and having Soosh at the JCC is perfect for us! The new menu has a good balance of sushi, salads, pizza, sandwiches and soup, and they continue to expand their menu. The kitchen is very accommodating to special requests.” Maryles continued, “One benefit of the new location is accessibility of parking. The previous location was not so easy to pick up orders or even to eat there if you were not staying at the hotel.”

Judith Bernstein, also of Stamford, noted, “The biggest benefit is their expansion of the pizza business. It makes a community when you have a Saturday night local pizza location.” She added, “The JCC is much more central to serve the entire community.”

In describing what she likes most about the new restaurant, Lieberman said, “I have to say what I enjoy the most is my staff. Soosh is blessed to have a dedicated group of individuals who really thrive in offering good service. I feel blessed to have such a strong team at Soosh.”

 By Judy Berger

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