WHERE TO EAT: TUYEN (TONY) TRAN
- Enjoy quality sushi in Downtown Kalispell
Montana might be a landlocked state, but Tuyen (Tony) Tran, executive chef and owner of Blue Samurai Sushi Bar and Grill, has never found distance from the sea a limiting factor. “Sushi is art,” he has said, and the Vietnamese sushi genius believes downtown Kalispell is the perfect palette, thanks in part to the strong business community. A Kalispell resident by way of Florida, Tran moved here after running for years a renowned sushi restaurant in Tampa. Tran quickly built a solid reputation in Kalispell, and in the year since Blue Samurai opened, his restaurant has become an instant classic for date nights, celebrations, and entertaining out-of-town guests. Here, Tran, a lifelong entrepreneur, considers why Kalispell, Montana, is the perfect place for a quality sushi restaurant.
Q: Why did you want to open your sushi restaurant in Kalispell?
A: I’m proud of where I live. Kalispell is between five cities; 20 minutes from Whitefish, 20 minutes from Columbia Falls, 20 minutes from Bigfork, 15 from Lakeside, and Kila is right there. In Kalispell, you are in the middle. Location, location, location. I’ve been in business since I was 23 years old, and that’s the top thing when you do business.
Q: What drew you to Kalispell in the first place?
A: I came here and realized that people are very nice, very down to earth. If you have your car break down on the side of the road, people will pull over and help you. In Asia, in Vietnam, where I’m from, people will help you no-questions-asked. We want to help. Kalispell resembles something old-school, something human. Laid-back. You can get the human connection again. Especially in America, in big cities, it’s been lost. I come from another country where we have that. But Kalispell and the Flathead Valley in general, people are very nice, and I feel reconnected to culture.
Q: And what makes it a good place to do business?
A: Word of mouth is the best marketing tool you can have. And this town, everyone is so close and everyone knows everyone. Word of mouth is very strong, more powerful than any marketing tool. You can spend less money on marketing, and more time talking to people and getting to know people. I really want to grow Kalispell—I will put everything I’ve got into growing this downtown with other people and business owners.