ORLANDO, Fla. – What started as an idea while watching anime and eating ramen has now turned into three restaurants and a store.
Soupa Saiyan, a Dragon Ball Z-themed restaurant, first opened in 2016. Now, the business is celebrating its seven-year anniversary.
It features “Dragon Ball Z” décor based on the Japanese anime TV series that first started in 1989. It follows the adventures Goku, who defends the Earth against all evil by stopping villains from collecting powerful dragon balls and taking over the world.
The name Soupa Saiyan is a reference to several of the main characters coming from an alien race called Saiyans, who can power up and become Super Saiyans. The show teaches audiences about teamwork, personal growth and redemption.
Joy Nguyen said when she and her husband, Marshall, first came up with the business, many people thought it was a joke and didn’t believe in them.
They believed it was important to give anime lovers a place to connect.
“Growing up, he always felt like kids (made) fun of him or (thought) he’s weird, so he (felt) like all the other anime fans out there must feel the same,” Joy Nguyen said, of her husband. “So opening Soupa Saiyan, he knows that this is dedicated to them. They can feel good enjoying a bowl of noodles with their kind of people without feeling judged.”
Soupa Saiyan is a family-run team with locations in Orlando and Jacksonville. One restaurant is located on Vineland Road with the Soupa Shop nearby. The other Orlando location is near the University of Central Florida on University Boulevard.
After opening their first location on Vineland Road, Joy Nguyen said an anime fan inspired her husband to open even more businesses.
“An anime fan came in one day thanking us for opening a place like this, because if not, she would just be at home playing games or watch anime. She never felt comfortable to be out and about because she felt like she didn’t fit in. My husband felt that he once was like that and he can only imagine how other people feel, so he decided to open a few more different locations,” she said.
She added one of her favorites parts about their themed restaurants is the nostalgia it brings to customers and seeing the smiles on their faces.
“It’s like a kid stepping into a candy shop, but as (an) adult, seeing how excited and overjoyed they are and knowing that we help bring back memories for them as a kid, that’s what we love,” Joy Nguyen said. “Being (an) adult is stressful sometimes. It’s nice to just go back in time and think of how it was when we (were) kids.”
Soupa Saiyan gets its ingredients locally as much as possible to help support Central Florida farmers and businesses. They participate in local events, and even showcase anime-inspired artwork from local artists in their restaurants.
“We feel that by blending the love of anime and food, we’ve created more than just a restaurant. We’ve created a hub for cultural exchange and community connection,” Joy Nguyen said.
For more information about the restaurants and shop, visit the Soupa Saiyan website.
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