In 2019 fine-dining chef JJ Johnson scraped together enough money to open a fast-casual restaurant on Lenox Avenue in Harlem. He thought he could find an audience to enjoy his rice bowls topped with ingredients inspired by a variety of the globe’s rice-eating cultures.
“I barely had enough money to open that location,” Johnson said. “I was being really gritty, hoping that the food would be delicious enough for people to enjoy.”
Despite doubters who told him that people don’t open fast-casual spots in Harlem, diners came through the door, and great reviews in the city’s food press followed.
Johnson expanded to Midtown, proving to the city and
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