Teen's viral TikTok helping grandfather's sushi restaurant thrive despite pandemic

Posted at 12:02 PM, Apr 23, 2021

A Texas restaurant owner says his son’s viral TikTok video has restored new life to a business that had been struggling to attract customers amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sushiya is a Japanese restaurant located in the heart of downtown Dallas. Owner Kang Lee opened the restaurant 14 years ago after decades in the restaurant industry.

But when the pandemic arrived in the U.S. last year, Sushiya’s business started to dry up. With thousands in the area suddenly working from home, the restaurant could no longer rely on the steady lunch crowds that once poured into the restaurant.

According to the Dallas Morning News, in the year since COVID-19 began spreading in the U.S., Sushiya has seen it’s revenue plummet to 50% of its pre-pandemic revenues.

Andrew Kim, Lee’s grandson, noticed that business had slowed at Sushiya during a trip to Texas in March. He decided to see if he could give his grandfather’s business a boost from his fellow Gen Z-ers by making a TikTok.

Kim posted the 10-second video to his TikTok account on March 19. The video features photos and videos of Lee, his restaurant and a few employees set to the song “Cloud 9” by Beach Bunny.

“business has been slow with corona, so it would mean a lot if u came :) #smallbusiness#sushi#texas#food,” Kim wrote in his caption.


business has been slow with corona, so it would mean a lot if u came :) ##smallbusiness ##sushi ##texas ##food

♬ Cloud 9 - Beach Bunny

The video quickly took off. It’s been favorited nearly 2 million times as of Friday, and the video has garnered more than 33,000 comments. The Dallas Morning News and the Dallas Observer report that it’s been viewed more than 6 million times.

Not only did TikTokers like Kim’s video; they actually came out to the restaurant. The Dallas Observer notes that in the past few weeks, customers have been lining up out the door.

Lee told the Morning News that his revenue in recent months is back up to 95% of where it was before the pandemic. He told the newspaper that he hopes to retire soon, and that his grandson’s TikTok has helped him pay off debt to make that happen.