Fusian's Stephan Harman says new Westerville location is like 'Main Street America'

Marla K. Kuhlman
ThisWeek group
Fusian cofounder and owner Stephan Harman said Westerville will mark the 12th Ohio restaurant location and fifth in central Ohio. It's scheduled to open Dec. 18 at 79 S. State St.

Westerville residents can look forward to what Fusian cofounder and owner Stephan Harman calls an “edible hug” when his 12th Ohio restaurant location is scheduled to open Dec. 18 at 79 S. State St.

He describes the coconut curry winter menu option as if it “almost feels like eating a hug.”

“As humans, when the weather gets cold, we like to eat warmer things, and so that’s what you see on the menu this time of year,” he said. 

Harman said the California and Spicy Tuna rolls easily are Fusian’s most popular sushi rolls. 

“We have three Ramen dishes that are new this year that are wildly popular,” he said. “Last year, we brought coconut curry to the winter menu, and we brought that back this winter. Coconut curry is nice. On these colder days, it warms you up.”

Rachel Ross, business development director, said Fusian is more than just sushi. 

“We appeal to many palates, not just raw fish and sushi,” she said. “We brought back curry from last year. We make everything and prep everything in-house.”

Harman said Fusian’s core focus is to create a convenient meal that’s healthful but different. 

“Sushi is made in our restaurants,” he said. “It’s fresh; it travels well. In the current climate, we receive about 70% of customers ordering ahead.”

When the Westerville location opens, it will start as online only, with dine-in open after Christmas, Ross said. 

“In regards to in-store dining, we aren’t going to put in a ton of tables in respect for the current environment with COVID,” Harman said. “We’re going to have some community seating here at the windows, some socially distanced seating in the front with barriers in between them. I wouldn’t expect us to really see the patio open until spring. With all the walk-in traffic with State Street, I think it will be a good place to hang out and maybe see your neighbor walk by.”

Fusian was founded by lifelong partners Josh Weprin, his brother Zach and Harman as a place where people could gather, connect and converse over food, according to the website at fusian.com.

They saw a need for a simple, fresh and affordable sushi dining option, and their vision was to challenge the American perception of sushi and create a place for everyone to enjoy the benefits of Asian-American cuisine, the website states.

Harman said a pact was made when the first store opened in downtown Cincinnati in 2010 that additional locations wouldn’t open in any place where they wouldn’t want to spend time themselves. 

“It’s very easy to look at demographics, densities and a data spreadsheet,” he said. “But when you’re in Westerville, you fall in love. You meet friendly people; you spend a day here, and it feels like it’s a day well spent. We love it. It’s kind of Main Street America.”

Westerville also is in an area of central Ohio where Fusian doesn’t have a restaurant.

“Fortunately for us, this particular property has a neighborhood feel, and it has 30 parking spaces, which is nice for quick dine-in, dine-out, pickup, order-ahead,” Harman said. ”It’s just a great corner of town that I think once a Fusian sign goes up and cars start pulling in, we’ll see a lot of activity added to Uptown Westerville.”

He said 25 to 35 staff members will work out of the Westerville location, depending on the season. 

“We’re doing our own self-delivery,” Harman said. “A lot of our staff members you may not ever see because they are out on the road making their deliveries.”

On Fusian’s Twitter @eatfusian, follower @ayee_its_cheri, wrote Dec. 7,  “I really want Fusian. Someone treat me to sushi. I love you (a) long time.”

@eatfusian replied, “Does it count if we treat you to it?”

”Yes it does. I would love that,” @ayee_its_cheri said.

Hours will be 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily for order-ahead, curbside pickup and delivery within a 7-mile radius. 

mkuhlman@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekMarla