ORLANDO, Fla. – A sense of fun is very important to Robert and Teresa Ly, and that value is a big part of their business, Sus Hi Eatstation.
The importance of fun and food helped the two hit it off in both their romantic and business partnership.
“Our core values also aligned. We love to have fun. We love eating,” Robert Ly said. “The concept (for Sus Hi Eatstation) came up about a year or so after us dating. We wanted to start a business together, and we’re just thinking like, ‘What is it that we want to start?’ And we’re like, ‘We want to start something that we want,’ and during that time, there was no create your own sushi.”
The young couple opened their first location in 2011 near the campus of the University of Central Florida, where Teresa Ly was still attending school.
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The restaurant, or dojo as the Lys like to call it, is ninja-themed.
“We just love having fun. That’s the thing. That’s our whole culture is built upon that fun core value of ours. So we thought, ‘What’s more fun than ninjas? We have to do that,’” Teresa Ly said.
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All of the employees at Sus Hi Eatstation are referred to as ninjas.
“So when you come into our organization, the first thing you do is you come up with a ninja name,” Robert Ly said. “So that’s kind of your entry into the brand. So every single employee — we don’t call them employees, we call them ninjas — has their own identity that they come in. That’s the first thing to choose, they discover their own ninja name.”
The Lys also get in on this fun. Teresa Ly is Grand Master Miso Eel, and Robert Ly is Grand Master Fun Ly.
Of course, in the early days of Sus Hi, it wasn’t all fun.
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“I remember the first three, four years of our first restaurant, we were working over 100 hours a week,” Robert Ly said. “As (we’re) building a new business, a new concept, we have to put on multiple hats — and we’re still wearing multiple hats — but we literally had like 20-30 hats when we first built it and no sleep,” Robert Ly said.
Despite those early hardships, the pair persevered. Now, they have nine locations and will soon be opening a 10th. The pair also have a small army of over 200 ninjas in their employ.
On top of running their business, the pair have also been busy raising three children — two daughters, 6 and 5, and a baby boy.
In the latest episode of Florida Foodie, Robert and Teresa Ly talk more about juggling family while also running their business. They also share how they managed to get through the COVID-19 pandemic and what it was like when their wedding went viral online, racking up millions of views on YouTube.
Please follow our Florida Foodie hosts on social media. You can find Candace Campos on Twitter and Facebook. Lisa Bell is also on Facebook and Twitter and you can check out her children’s book, “Norman the Watchful Gnome.”
Florida Foodie is a podcast from WKMG and Graham Media that takes a closer look at what we eat, how we eat it and the impact that has on us here in Florida and for everyone, everywhere. Find new episodes on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or wherever you download your favorite podcasts.