Tsunami Sushi managing partner Michele Ezell is finding a way to grow during the pandemic.

The local restaurateur has been selected to join the 2020 class of the James Beard Foundation Women's Entrepreneurial Leadership Program. Developed with Babson College and presented by Audi, the year-long program is targeted to women chefs, owners, experts, and funders who are looking to expand and grow. After carefully reviewing approximately 120 applications, Ezell was selected by the Women's Leadership Advisory Committee.

But when Ezell got the invite, she almost didn't take it.

Like many local restaurants, Ezell has had to make major adjustments recently in what could be described as a perpetual pivot due to the coronavirus pandemic. While the opportunity is an amazing one, her restaurants are still dealing with COVID-19 restrictions that put a major squeeze on her potential business.

While Ezell believes an all-hands-on-deck approach is necessary to stay afloat during these unprecedented times, this is also a chance for her to learn how to better navigate future issues and grow her business.

When they sent the invite email I really had to sleep on it for 24 hours because I was like I don’t need to be distracted right now and take myself offline from making sure my restaurants don’t fail. But then I realized it’s a gift and opportunity and maybe a roadmap to learning how to make sure they don’t fail

Ezell has Tsunami locations in Lafayette, Baton Rouge, and New Orleans so this experience is sure to have an impact on her business in all three markets. Congrats to Michele as she dives right in (orientation is today!) and we can wait to see how she makes one of our favorite restaurants even better!

You can read more about the program on the official James Beard website here.