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Social Sushi Detroit

1442 Brush
Detroit, Michigan

Jay Rayford

By Amanda Lewan 
January 17, 2014

There’s something instantly welcoming about gathering around with a group of strangers to share a meal. Food has always offered us a way to unite together, but Social Sushi Detroit brings food and social networking to a whole new level.
The sushi catering company prepares fresh sushi and their signature spicy sauce for local events, but the company has also grown their own network of supporters. Social Sushi brings their following, along with their food, to new businesses and community spaces in Detroit, providing promotion and exposure for local artists and entrepreneurs.
The idea for the socially-minded catering company grew organically, with both good food and the local community in mind.
"We kept seeing people posting about eating and enjoying great sushi, but they were great people who didn’t know each other yet," says Jay Rayford, co-founder of Social Sushi. "We decided to invite them in to eat sushi at our first event. Now people expect when they come to our events to meet good people and learn about new businesses." And, of course, eat really good sushi, but that probably goes without saying.
Jay has always been a promoter of the good in Detroit. As co-founder of Social Sushi and the online promotions site Repyourcity.com, he has built up quite the loyal following. He recently had a customer tell him they budget every month to attend a Social Sushi event.
"Every event is full of energy, and we always attract about five or six people who have never tried sushi before," Jay says. "Food, community, and neighborhood businesses can help bring us together. Most of the events are bringing people to new places they’ve never been to before."
Community engagement isn’t just a part of what drives the company forward; it is also what drove Jay back to the motor city. Jay grew up in Detroit and though he left to work as an electric engineer in Florida, Philadelphia, and New York, he always carried with him good stories about his hometown. When he returned home to visit in 2010 and witnessed a parade that brought together the whole community, Jay realized that he wanted to return home.
"I had a burning desire for community engagement," says Jay. "When I lived outside I was always promoting the good about Detroit."

After Jay returned home, It wasn’t long until he entered TechTown’s Fast Track program and D:hive’s BUILD classes to craft a business plan and learn more about starting the social catering company. Social Sushi Detroit has participated in events hosted at Cliff Bell’s, MotorCity Wine, Life:Detroit, and many more.
Jay and his team are hoping to continue to expand their events, currently about three or four per month, and also open a brick and mortar sushi lounge in the downtown area. The lounge will continue to include the local community, inviting artists, musical talent, and startups to work, perform, and break bread (er, chopsticks) together.  
"Our ultimate goal is to bring all of these people together and have them interact in one space. That’s what really creates a community."

All photos by Doug Coombe. 

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