TIM CHANG AND HIS FIRST CLASS STAFF AT AKINA SUSHI
424 EAST 14TH ST
NEW YORK NY 10009
GO BACK TO THE
11:30 AM - 11:00 PM
11:30 AM - 11:30 PM
12:00 NOON-11:00 PM
Dine In or Take Out
Grand St. - 34th St.
Sixth Ave. - Avenue D
The center of Akina's universe is the founder and owner of Akina, Tim Chang. Born and raised in Hong Kong, Tim's first job was working at a McDonald's in that fabled port at age fourteen. In 1991 he emigrated to the United States, where he followed the apprentice system at notable Japanese restaurants, combining hard work and intelligence as he learned to be a sushi chef, a cooking master, and how to run a business. Akina opened its doors on 20 December 2008. With his friendly personality and culinary skills, Tim makes his customers feel as though they were guests in his own dining room. However, even Tim could not do it alone. The restaurant is open seven days a week for lunch and dinner, every day of the year except Thanksgiving, for almost twelve hours per day. Tim has a dedicated staff of young Chinese-American men and women who share his incredible work ethic. The music of Mandarin is the language of inter-staff communication at Akina, with everyone striving to learn English as well (My attempts to go beyond ni hao ma and sheh sheh ni are met with great amusement). The sushi chef and his assistant are highly visible at the sushi bar at the back end of the dining area, and the hot food chef, though rarely seen outside his little kitchen, is equally talented. Almost never seen but playing his essential role is the dishwasher down in the basement, but the most visible folks are the staff who connect the customers with the fine food.
Tim's wife Nicole serves as waitress and is really his executive assistant. She works long hours six days a week making sure that every diner in this twenty-three seat restaurant is well served and happy with his or her whole experience, as well as being cashier, cleaner, and take-out clerk. The bar was set very high by Jenny, who served in this capacity for some three years before relocating out of state for personal reasons. To give the waitress some much needed relief, Fanny, technically the cashier but certainly a great waitress as well, appeared a few nights each week after completing her day job at a restaurant supply company. Fanny, who worked with Tim at another restaurant before he opened Akina, earned a bachelor's degree from Hunter College while holding down her post at Akina. The last staff member we describe here is also the most important (and the only one you will see if you have your food delivered, namely Jeff the delivery man, who brings your food right to your door (not just to the entrance of your building), bicycling through the crowded neighborhood around Fourteenth Street in all kinds of weather to bring the Akina experience to you if you are lucky to live or work nearby but cannot get over to the restaurant.
Tim and his staff, united by their common language and culture (from the southeast China coast) and goal (to provide great food and friendly and efficient service) and their long hours together in the confined space of the little restaurant, are a kind of happy family, but even all these people cannot keep up with the work all the time. Even Tim's mother pitches in as needed, and his sister May owns the nail salon next door, and her daughter Mona (Tim's niece) comes in to help out as well as she acquires the Chang work ethic.
TIM CHANG AND FORMER CASHIER FANNY