PLANTING THE SEED
Season 1 - Episode III
The seed was planted for Zenfish five years ago when Janet and Bryan met while he waited on her table at a sushi restaurant. Five years later, their story has ironically come full-circle. Now a married couple, they own and run ZenFish Poké Bar, one of the most popular fast-casual restaurants to hit Durham, the renowned foodie stop of the South. Quick, delicious and aesthetically beautiful, ZenFish has quickly become a top choice for restaurant goers in the Durham food scene. A major success, ZenFish just built and launched a second location in Morrisville, a city closer to Raleigh.
Janet had her “aha moment” while working a 9 to 5 corporate desk job. She put in her 30-day notice on a blind leap of faith and together, they started dreaming up ZenFish. Bryan, who works in finance, brought forth his expertise in setting the foundation for their future business. As an active yogi, Janet knew she wanted to incorporate her practice and meaningful elements of yoga into her business. As a California native, she had an appreciation for Poké (Poh-KAY). Combining those aspects of Janet’s life along with Bryan’s background in finance, their dream evolved into their reality. After tons of research and planning, ZenFish Poké Bar was created — a locally produced poké restaurant that serves both poké bowls and sushi burritos.
Poké is a Hawaiian delicacy that resembles unpacked sushi rolls. Traditionally, the bowl starts with a base of rice or another substitute, bitesize portions of raw fish, various vegetables, and additional toppings. Their signature bowls, with names like “Compassion” and “Kindness,” embody the principles of yoga that also come from Janet’s personality and energy. Hand-written instructions face customers as they walk through the bar line, making their choices and watching ZenFish’s cheerful employees build Instagram-worthy poké bowls and burritos. The restaurant includes a chalk wall where customers can write what they’re grateful for, an art wall showcasing local artists’ works, a succulent wall created by The ZEN Succulent, and little reminders of kindness and gratitude on every wall.
Beyond serving the community with their unique options and motivational messages, Janet and Bryan prioritize their heavy involvement in the local Durham community. ZenFish scouted local farms prior to opening and upon full-launch, they began sourcing fresh ingredients from local farms. As a step towards sustainability, all utensils and bowls are completely compostable. To give back, ZenFish donates proceeds from a specific ingredient to their non-profit choice of the month, and as a business, they match the donation. Janet is also heavily involved with the Durham Chamber of Commerce, attending monthly meetings in between her long days running their businesses. ZenFish’s strong presence and support for their local community have had a huge impact on the Durham restaurant scene. Committed to their mission, their expansion plans will continue to support the local markets and communities that surround their future locations.
TAKE A LEAP OF FAITH. - Janet and Bryan are prime examples of what blindly pursuing your dreams can lead to. Do you have a dream that feels too far-fetched to pursue? GO FOR IT! You never lose when you pursue your passion. Do your research, build relationships and support, and watch your dreams unfold.
GIVE BACK. - The support of the local community is matched by their ongoing efforts to be a key contributor to their city. Their choice to donate to nonprofits reassures them that they are doing something much bigger than serving customers. They are changing lives, too.
SUSTAINABILITY. - Find out what you can do, then do it! Choosing to provide compostable dishware and utensils was of utmost importance to the ZenFish practice. As they took a step in a new direction, the Durham food scene followed and actively pursues new sustainable practices.
Follow Zenfish - here
Check out the Zenfish Website - here
Order a Poké Bowl - here
Written and Edited by: Sammi Meksvanh - Digital Content Specialist