Dr. Win Somboonsong, president of Win Signature Restaurants which includes Azie in Media and Teikoku in Newtown Square, prefers simple things like the old-fashioned, downtown charm of State Street in Media or the basic sushi rolls like tuna, yellow tail, or scallion.
Somboonsong was recently named Eastern Pennsylvania District Veteran-Owned Small Business Person of the Year as part of the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Eastern Pennsylvania District Office list of 2017 Small Business Week Award Winners.
“Media is a special town,” he says on a Friday morning as his staff preps for lunch. “Here, people sometimes walk to the restaurant from the neighborhood. You can walk along the street and find places you wouldn’t know still exist that sells stuff at a reasonable price. It brings you back to older days. Life used to be simple. Now everyone is on the iPhone and social media. You have to spend time for yourself, not for people to like you.”
Somboonsong doesn’t need to post close-ups of super sized sushi rolls to be liked. He, along with his wife, Sutida, opened their first restaurant in Ardmore in 1992 and currently operate four restaurants with 180 employees.
“I have a lot of good people working for me,” said Somboonsong, adding that his first employee is still with Azie. “A restaurant is sometimes tough. You work on not much margin and there are a lot of competitors. I try to treat my staff the best I can.”
“The (SBA) award winners being honored have truly distinguished themselves and represent the very best that the eastern Pennsylvania small business community has to offer,” said SBA Eastern Pennsylvania District Director Antonio “Tony” Leta.
Somboonsong, who attended Valley Forge Military Academy at age 16, joined the service in 1986 and was commissioned for several tours in the Navy where he was a special engineering officer. He completed his Ph.D. from Drexel in Civil Engineering in 1997.
Somboonsong notes many skills he used in the Navy – contracting, construction and negotiation – have been useful in the restaurant business.
Azie in Media offers contemporary Asian dishes and sushi with sushi making up 40 percent of sales. For all of Win Signature Restaurants, the core of the menu stays the same but there are changes with seasons and trends.
“We know people especially now are concerned about what they eat and what they put in their body. We provide quality food at a reasonable price and people realize that,” said Somboonsong.