Jay Rayford, the founder of the city’s soon-to-be Social Sushi, left his job as a full time electrical engineer to move back to Detroit after being away for five years and noticed a trend in social activity.

He noticed people were either into fashion or music, technology, nonprofits or small business and that those interests rarely crossed paths.

“What I quickly noticed was that these groups don’t often blend or merge together,” Rayford said. “So after ‘infiltrating’ the various spaces, my partner and I decided that sushi could be the draw to attract them into one space. That’s how Social Sushi was born,” he said.

Rayford was no stranger to the city as he was born and raised on Detroit’s west side where he continued on to Wayne County Community College. Rayford went on to Davenport University for international business and then Full Sail University for entertainment business. After graduating with his degrees, Rayford spent most of his professional time in engineering, which he found wasn’t his true passion.

“In 2008, I decided that I wanted to truly live and what better time than in my young years to dive into something and go for it,” he said. “I returned to Detroit in 2010 to do exactly that.”

Rayford worked on many community engagement projects, served on a few boards, launched and failed a couple startup ideas and now he’s putting his life’s passion into Social Sushi.

“Because of the support of those that have attended Social Sushi events and have been die hard fans of our sushi, we’re now opening a sushi lounge,” he said.

Rayford and his team put on many events for Social Sushi and catered while hearing over and over that there was a void for good sushi in Detroit. Social Sushi put together a business plan and after considering many areas, Rayford found much potential at a space in Corktown.

“Corktown is surely becoming a destination for foodies and those just looking to have a good night out,” Rayford said.

“Not to mention Complex Magazine calls Corktown one of the ’50 most stylish neighborhoods in the world’,” he said.

Social Sushi wants to operate as more than a place to connect and visit by bringing an element of sustainability to their business mission.

“I’m extremely passionate about our community and innovative ways we can think about doing things different in our city that is both appealing with residents and sustainable,” Rayford said.

The sushi will be made with fish that is sustainably caught, as to not source fish in a way that will add to the depletion that professionals predict isn’t far away.

“We want to change that and we plan to do that by sourcing by supply rather than demand,” Rayford said.

“There are a ton of different species of fish that we could be eating, and that are perfectly safe to eat, that we just aren’t made aware of,” he said.

Since Rayford launched the idea of Social Sushi, he’s seen strangers turn into couples and friends turn into business partners as a result of his events and networking ideas.

“I could go on and on about the rewarding experiences so far, but I have to say that it’s my passion for bringing diverse people together that keeps me going and passionate about making this happen in the city I was born and raised in,” he said.

Rayford and the team plan to open Social Sushi in November. Visit their site at socialsushidetroit.com and keep up to date by following them on social on Facebook and Twitter.

Written by Erica N. Rakowicz / Photo Credit: Facebook


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