Zena Sushi closure leaves void in Coppell’s culinary landscape


Wendy Le

Zena Sushi reopened on Dec. 1, 2012 under the ownership of Jae Kim. After serving the Coppell community for over a decade, the restaurant announced its closing in late December 2022.

Wendy Le, Staff Writer

After over a decade of serving authentic Asian cuisine to the local community, Zena Sushi, a Coppell restaurant, closed in late December.

Growing up, owner Jae Kim was deeply inspired by his mother, who owned and operated a successful restaurant in South Korea. Determined to turn his dream into reality, Kim decided to take the leap and purchase Zena Sushi of Coppell. 

Kim passionately wanted to share the flavors of his mother’s restaurant with the Coppell community. On Dec. 1, 2012, his work to reopen Zena Sushi came to fruition. For the next decade, Kim, along with wife Sung Kang and daughters Jenna and Jamie, created a locally-beloved Asian cuisine destination known for delicious flavors and a warm atmosphere.

Coppell High School sophomore Safiya Mohammed was pleased to find a sense of inclusivity at the restaurant. With its offerings suitable for many dietary needs, including Halal foods, Mohammed’s family was able to dine comfortably knowing that their dietary needs were accommodated. 

“The thing I liked most about Zena Sushi was the restaurant’s sushi. It was very fresh and well prepared,” Mohammed said. “I loved the Rainbow Roll and Salmon Rolls. It was also Halal, which was a plus since my family is Muslim, we felt welcomed and comfortable there and that’s rare for a sushi place.”

However, as the pandemic began to impact businesses in March 2020, the restaurant was forced to close indoor dining to customers, creating a drastic loss of customers who preferred the dine-in atmosphere that Zena Sushi offered. In response, the restaurant began offering delivery services through popular platforms such as Doordash, UberEats and Postmates, allowing the restaurant to continue serving customers. 

“[COVID-19] took a lot of business away. We had great business, but it was better before,” said Jamie Kim, speaking on behalf of her parents.

Inflation arising from the pandemic has made it increasingly difficult for the restaurant to stay afloat. According to The New York Post, inflation rates have surged to 8.2% in September 2022, affecting both individuals and businesses, including Zena Sushi. This caused the restaurant to face challenges in balancing menu prices while still sustaining profits.

“With all the increase in having to find all the supplies that go into the restaurant – eggs, flowers, just little things like that – tripling and quadrupling in price and for people that are buying in bulk and working at restaurants, our prices are tripling and quadrupling, we can’t do that. That’s not fair to the people,” Jamie Kim said. “At the end of the day, after we’ve paid off everything we needed to pay off, it wasn’t enough to support the family.” 

The closure has left neighborhood sushi lovers reeling, according to Palio’s Pizza Cafe assistant manager, Hamzn Milhel, as Zena Sushi was one of few Japanese eateries in Coppell. 

“It’s the only [Japanese restaurant] we have around these areas, so I think it’s going to affect the people that like sushi and such,” Milhel said. 

CHS sophomore Odina Mullabaeva appreciated Zena Sushi for its convenient location, only 0.2 miles from the high school. 

“It’s really upsetting that they’re closing down because I’ve tried a lot of other restaurants and they were the best,” Mullbaeva said. “It was close by, too.” 

While the owners of Zena Sushi attempted to mitigate the economic hardships, the restaurant’s closing was unavoidable.

“My parents are extremely thankful for being able to serve everybody in Coppell for the past 10 years and [owners] are going to miss all the customers, all the regulars so much,” Jamie Kim said. “It is really heartbreaking that it isn’t going to be a weekly occurrence anymore to see these people, but [the owners] are extremely proud of the success that they have been able to have. We have been very blessed to have the opportunity to serve Coppell.”

Coppell’s Feng Cha owner Kay Pham suggests potential businesses should take advantage of the opening location. 

Potential businesses should be something that attracts a lot of students when they get out of school since the location is so close to CHS,” Pham said. “Either desserts or fast food. A dine-in restaurant would not be good for the location. It should be something for come and go.”

Jamie Kim would like to remind its customers that the closure of the restaurant is not the end of the road for the family’s culinary ventures. The owners are still exploring options and want to remind the community to keep the door open for possibilities in the future. 

“There is a possibility of some new things coming up. We’re not quite sure yet, but we want people to not lose hope,” Jamie Kim said.

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