Little Sakana

A Dream Come True

Tuan Nguyen wanted to open a Hawaiian poke restaurant: a start up, his first entrepreneurial effort. He spotted a 1,275 square foot space available in the Village at Mira Mesa in San Diego. It was previously a bakery located near other successful eateries like Crab Hut, L&L Hawaiian BBQ and Ding Tea. Tuan contacted Brixmor leasing agent Tyler Barry, who was immediately interested in Tuan’s business plan.

“We definitely like to work with local entrepreneurs,” Tyler notes. “They bring unique character and a special community connection to our centers. Tuan had a clear vision and his business plan was solid.”

Tuan also had strong credentials as a sushi chef and restaurant general manager. Hawaiian poke was a rising trend. Pokeland opened in December of 2016 and was an almost overnight success.

“Tyler was very knowledgeable and helpful with our lease and build out,” Tuan says. “Our Yelp reviews took off right away and business was great. But poke is a limited menu, basically fish over rice, and I started thinking about doing something bigger, a new Japanese concept. Tyler told me about a 4,340 square foot space in the same center, and I took it.”

“We wanted to help him grow and knew Tuan could execute well.” Tyler explains.

The conversion of the larger space from retail to full service restaurant was much more complex. Tuan sold Pokeland to help fund the build out of his new venture.

The result is Little Sakana, a stylishly modern dining environment and one of very few all-you-can-eat sushi restaurants in San Diego. High quality fish, traditional and contemporary Japanese cuisine, affordable lunch specials, signature cocktails, craft beers and well-priced happy hours draw enthusiastic customers not only from local neighborhoods and office complexes, but from 30 to 40 minutes away.

“Tuan and his business partners Jenna Hu and Messiah Williams have it all dialed in. Beautiful marketing, daily posts on social media before lunch and dinner, and nailing everything from service to food quality to knowing their customers.” Tyler adds, “Their restaurant serves as a mini anchor drawing large crowds, and other Village at Mira Mesa tenants benefit from the increased traffic.”

Tuan calls Little Sakana a dream come true. “Brixmor has been really good about letting us do our own thing. Tyler stops by just to check in. It’s a great relationship.”


Three owners of Little Sakana restaurant