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Robbie Tani is a second generation Japanese American. He was born and raised in LA in 1952. He went to an all Japanese Grammar School run by Nuns and worked at his Aunts store while growing up. He graduated from Columbia State in 1976, worked at Hughes Aircraft for 5 years, and then moved to Mammoth and started a Shogun restaurant. He ran it for 35 years until opening up Yamatani in 2005.
Summary of Transcript
First Robbie Tani opens up with some background on his life and career (0:38). He then explains his inspiration for starting his business and why he chose Mammoth, California as his location (2:43). He then discusses how being a Japanese American shaped his current success in the food industry (4:02). Later he mentions the amount of Japanese incarcerations during World War II and his relationship to it (5:39). Later he discusses his favorite dish (6:53), where the inspiration came from to name rolls after people (11:48), learning to make sushi from his older brother (12:44), and his customer base and how it has changed over the years (16:52). The interview closes with a discussion on how Covid-19 has impacted his business (21:32).
Weinert, Janelle, "Interview with Robbie Tani (Yamatani)" (2021). Pacific Food Empires. 2.