Business & economy

New location pays off for longtime popular Ontario business

Connie Huston, co-owner of Ogawa’s Sushi, Burgers, And Bowls talks about the recent move by the business from Ontario to Fruitland recently. (The Enterprise/PAT CALDWELL)

FRUITLAND – When Connie and Tom Huston took over Ogawa’s Sushi, Burgers, And Bowls in Ontario in 2015, their goals were modest.

They wanted to produce something special for the community and provide great service and affordable prices.

As it turned out, the result exceeded even their most humble expectations.

“From the time we purchased it, to three or four years, we grew the business by 100 percent,” said Connie Huston.

That growth continued unabated, even through the darkest days of the pandemic, and eventually compelled the Hustons to move across the border into Idaho.

Ogawa’s is now at 900 N.W. 13th St. in Fruitland, right behind Idaho Pizza. It is open 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and noon until 9 p.m. Saturday.

The move was triggered by a desire to provide more parking space, a bigger restaurant and a great price on the property, said Huston.

“We outgrew the space we were in,” said Huston.

The new restaurant opened in early January and Huston said there was no lag in business. In fact, she said, her business is booming as big crowds arrive every night and there is often a waiting list for a table.

“We have one- to two-hour waits on Friday and Saturday nights. We feel incredibly blessed,” said Huston.

Ogawa’s offers soups, seafood, mafa chicken, rice, Teriyaki beef and chicken bowls.

The restaurant also offers a bar just off the main section.

“It’s busier because of the atmosphere and better parking,” said Huston.

The interior of the new restaurant is open with large picture windows that allow in plenty of light.

Huston said the move from Oregon to Idaho wasn’t difficult.

“The hardest part of opening a new business was to get a liquor license,” said Huston.

The move also prompted the Hustons to add jobs.

“We have 37 employees and when we left (Oregon) we had 27 so I gained 10,” said Huston.

The employees, said Huston, are the key to the success of Ogawa’s.

“I can’t say enough about them. They are high-quality people,” said Huston.

Huston said she is also looking to add more employees.

She said Ogawa’s could use at least two more cooks and “two or three more experienced servers.”

“We are also now doing curbside and take out,” said Huston.

Huston said she and her husband also now own the bar, which wasn’t the case at the Ontario location.

Huston said the small business triumph hasn’t been without challenges.

The pandemic – and the subsequent restrictions issued by the state – created a big obstacle, she said. “We just adapted.”

Huston said success revolves around “trust, faith and having the right people and not getting caught up in the drama of life.”

She said her husband also provides a calming influence.

“He keeps me grounded. He is the rock,” said Huston.

“We’ve taken the lumps as they come. We try not to dwell on the negative. We are in a good location. We both have a high level of faith and we have an amazing staff,” said Huston.

Huston, who lives in Vale, said casting the right perspective on life is also a key for success.

“We all have negative impacts in our lives that can hold us back. But you have to put them in the right place because it helps you move forward,” said Huston.

News tip? Contact reporter Pat Caldwell at [email protected].

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