Today we’d like to introduce you to Joe Koskovics.
Hi Joe, thanks for sharing your story with us. To start, maybe you can tell our readers some of your backstories.
I started out working in kitchens when I was 16 years old. Although cooking wasn’t my original passion I kept working hard, learning new things, and pretty quickly climbed through the ranks of the kitchen. I ended up working at a local restaurant that served high-end entrees, along with an expansive seafood selection including a full sushi menu. When the sushi chef left the restaurant, we were in need of a replacement, with limited options and limited time the executive chef trusted me to take on the task of becoming the sushi chef. I reluctantly accepted as I was finding myself a home in the kitchen, where I was learning and excelling. Due to the circumstances, I was left without the extensive training a sushi chef would normally go through. I spent a lot of time sitting at other local sushi bars, reading books on sushi, and watching the few videos I could find on YouTube at that time. Although I didn’t know much about sushi, I did have an understanding of traditional French, Italian and American flavors so with that knowledge I started blending some of those flavors with the Asian flavors I was learning. What I didn’t know was I was creating an “Asian Fusion” sushi menu right before “Asian Fusion” in the Cleveland area really started to take off. I was definitely at the right place in my career at the right time. With customers, friends, and family really enjoying the menus I was creating it really pushed me to continue to learn more and more. With my new following of regulars and my motivation to keep them coming back, I decided that being a sushi chef was something I was going to continue for a long time to come.
Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way? Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
Well, nothing in the service industry comes easy, every day we are faced with new challenges, sometimes they are easy to overcome other times they require real problem-solving skills. A lot of times the secret of success is to be like a duck, smooth and unruffled on the surface, but paddling furiously underneath.
A particularly hard obstacle to overcome was opening Voodoo Tuna as we were young, in over our heads, and really didn’t know what to expect opening our first restaurant. We had a vision of what we wanted Voodoo Tuna to be, leaning heavily into Asian fusion cuisine however the community was really hoping for some more traditional items to fill the void of sushi in Lakewood. The key was us coming together as a staff and reevaluating our plan. I honed my skills and focused more on traditional menu items while still offering the staple Asian fusion flavors that I knew the community would appreciate. After a few years we got to understand the community more as they were able to better understand us and now, I’m proud to say that Voodoo Tuna is a Lakewood staple been open for seven years.
Great, so let’s talk business. Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
Voodoo Tuna is Cleveland’s premier chef-driven Asian fusion restaurant. Chefs Andrew Jackson, Kyler Cerankowski, and Casey Carty create fun and unique variations of sushi and kitchen creations while still passionately serving up the classics. The cuisine is not Voodoo Tuna’s only focus, the cocktails come with the exact same attention to detail. Up and coming local bartenders Alysia Moliatu and Emmett O’Donnell handcraft each cocktail and prepare house-infused spirits and liqueurs with fresh fruits and spices. The serving staff at the restaurant is also fun and friendly but most importantly experts on the menu can help novice guests find the right meal or have great conversations with knowledgeable patrons. Voodoo Tuna boasts an original experience in a modern environment with Asian-inspired décor, an atmosphere to fit the mood, and murals from local artist Adam Jorgensen. Voodoo Tunas’ food, cocktails, and atmosphere offer everyone a great night out.
We all have a different way of looking at and defining success. How do you define success?
I define success in the restaurant business as hospitality. If we are hospitable to our guests along with giving them a great meal, and a great atmosphere then we are a success.
- Prices vary across the menu
- Happy Hour: Monday – Saturday 4:00 tp 6:00pm
- Email: Joe@voodootuna.com
- Website: http://www.voodootuna.com/
- Instagram: @VoodooTuna_CLE
- Facebook: @VoodooTunaCLE