Staff Blog

2021 Restaurant Partner: Itsumono

March 1, 2021

Over the years, SAAFF has partnered with many restaurants to bring our festival goers just a small taste of everything Seattle has to offer. This year, we are happy to announce that our restaurant partnerships have returned – with a twist! With our festival being all online, we wanted to spread our partnerships to the greater Seattle area! Get ready to hear the stories and voices of this year’s restaurant partners and get ready to find out how you can enjoy the taste of some of Seattle’s best restaurants while you watch our largest festival yet in the comfort of your own home!

Finally, learn more about Mike Vu, owner and operator of the recently renovated Itsumono! Itsumono, formerly Kaname, sits in the heart of Seattle’s Nihonmachi. It’s a staple in the neighborhood and a community favorite. We asked Mike a few questions about his business, and here’s what he had to say!

When and what inspired you to start your business?
I bought the business from Todd Kuniyuki (the previous owner) in October 2019. My inspiration in starting my business was that I always wanted to start a business. After graduate school, I wanted to get back into the restaurant industry to bartend. After several months of working my way up, I started working as a barback and learned how to be a bartender while it was not busy. After a while, I decided I should work in different places and gain more perspective in working as a bartender and learning how to run a bar. Eventually, I started working at Kaname and after a year of working there, Todd was willing to sell the business to me and I felt like it was the right time to own my own business. My vision is to create a space that does not have any boundaries in creativity, a safe space and a place where people can always feel comfortable calling their home. 

How has COVID-19 affected your business?
COVID-19 has greatly affected my business like everyone else. Not being able to open to the customers and having to lay people off to keep the business afloat has been difficult. The many lockdowns we have had have shown me who is willing to support and help us as a business. We are doing our best to do take out and with 25% capacity, we are doing a lot better. 

What would you like our SAAFF audience to know about your business?
I would like the SAAFF audience to know that I am grateful for their support to SAAFF and for anyone in the audience who has been supporting us and other local businesses. It means a lot to everyone who lives and owns a business in the CID. I do hope that next year we will be able to open up 100% to the SAAFF audience.

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