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Is Kula Becoming The Walmart of Sushi?

Thumbnail image for kulasushi_open.jpg
Edwin Goei
Some may remember that before it sold $2 sushi on moving belts, Kula's previous incarnation was as a high-priced, made-to-order sushi bar in Century City. When it failed to catch on after about one year, the restaurant made the move to the then still unproven Diamond Jamboree in Irvine. It was here that it found its niche in the conveyor belt-sushi trade.

Its instant success proved to the company that people would rather wait in long lines for its cheap, assembly-line sushi during times of recession than they would spend their money at a chic sushi restaurant that also mixed cocktails.

In its $2 per plate price model, Kula seemed to have found a resonant frequency with the public. It would spawn another store just like it in Rowland Heights and a return to LA proper at its recently-opened Little Tokyo branch. 

Now reborn as bonafide cheap sushi chain, the restaurant that I flippantly labeled as the Walmart of sushi in a review, seems poised to expand...well, like Walmart. 

It's planning four new outlets, including Torrance, Rancho Cucamonga, and two in OC. From the choice of its planned OC locations, it would seem its strategy is to surround us at our northern and southern border by way of malls. A restaurant is planned for Brea Mall as well as Laguna Hills Mall. All are scheduled to open this Spring.

So if in the future you see a Kula Sushi killing the local competition with its low, low prices, remember that Irvine was its Bentonville.

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