Fusian keeps rolling along in central Ohio with new sushi shop in Dublin

A. Kevin Corvo
ThisWeek group

The fourth Fusian in central Ohio opened Dec. 7 at 7721 Sawmill Road in Dublin.

It is the 11th Ohio location for the fast-casual custom-sushi restaurant chain, which also is poised to open a fifth regional location in Westerville on Dec. 18.

The business is an enterprise formed after three lifelong friends relocated to Colorado in the throes of Great Recession.

Stephan Harman and siblings Josh and Zach Weprin later opened their first Fusian in May 2010 in downtown Cincinnati.

Stephan Harman, pictured at the Fusian at Easton Market, is one of the founders of the fast-casual custom-sushi restaurant chain that recently opened a Dublin location off Sawmill Road.

“Sushi scares some people,” said Rachel Ross, director of business development for Fusian.

Many people think raw fish and seaweed when considering sushi, but Fusian has “customizable” options that begin with rice and include roasted salmon and roasted chicken as components, Ross said.

Before the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, Fusian staff members offered classes on how to make sushi at home.

The practice continues via video conferencing, Ross said.

The founders of Fusian, a name that combines “Asian” and “fusion,” met as children.

Harman, 34, said he was “about 3 years old” when he met Josh and Zach Weprin in their neighborhood near Dayton.

Harman and Zach Weprin graduated from college in 2008, two years after Josh Weprin, during the the 18-month Great Recession.

“Jobs were sparse, so we moved to Aspen (in Colorado) and became ski bums ... (while also) having sushi parties,” Harman said.

Working in the hospitality industry created the desire and laid the groundwork for the customer-service skills the three men would use to launch Fusian.

Josh Weprin was the first to move back to Cincinnati for a real-estate-based job that was the genesis for founding the restaurant chain, Harman said.

Still struggling to find solid post-college employment during the recession, Harman said, they “wrote up a plan” for an “easy, casual sushi” restaurant and opened the first location on Fourth Street in downtown Cincinnati. That restaurant has moved to Sixth and Vine streets in downtown Cincinnati, and two additional locations have opened in the Cincinnati region.

Three others are near Dayton, one is in Toledo and the rest are in central Ohio, including three in Columbus – near Grandview Heights, in Clintonville and at Easton Market – and the new Dublin and Westerville locations.

The partners opened their first restaurant with the help of an “angel investor,” a family member, and by cashing out some IRAs, Harman said.

With the success of its early operations and some small loans, Fusian employs 250 people at its restaurants, Harman said.

Scott Dring, president and CEO of Visit Dublin, Ohio, said Fusian is welcome in the Dublin market.

“Adding a restaurant with their unique menu with a focus on sushi only adds to the already diverse food options our city offers to its restaurants and visitors,” Dring said.

For more information about Fusian, go to fusian.com.

kcorvo@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekCorvo