May is Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month. This annual celebration recognizes the cultural and historical contributions of people and organizations who identify as AAPI in the United States. The Philadelphia International Airport (PHL) recognizes all AAPI employees, businesses, and organizations that contribute to the airport’s success.
Inez Setiabudi, who is of Indonesian and Chinese heritage, is president of Dan Food Service Corporation, which operates three Gachi Sushi and Noodles locations within the PHL Food & Shops Program. Passengers can find Gachi Sushi and Noodles in Terminal A-West, Terminal E, and the B/C Food Court.
Setiabudi’s educational background includes a bachelor's degree in Industrial Engineering, which she received in Indonesia, and an MBA in Finance from the University of Seattle during her time as an international student in 1993. Setiabudi returned to Indonesia after her graduate studies, and emigrated to the U.S. with her family in 2000. She initially worked at a friend's Arby’s in Virginia before opening her own franchise in Westfield Annapolis Mall, located in Maryland. After a few years in the mall, she was able to submit a food proposal to Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport (BWI). She officially opened an Arby’s as a franchisee at BWI in 2007, followed by two Gachi House of Sushi eateries.
“We got the opportunity to operate Arby's in BWI Airport,” said Setiabudi. “We then had a chance to develop our own brand - Gachi Sushi, a fresh unique and healthy casual food service concept with my team.”
Setiabudi opened her first Gachi Sushi and Noodles at PHL in Terminal A-West in January 2018, later opening two more locations. “I want to contribute to the success of the PHL Food & Shops Program by bringing unique menu options to travelers,” said Setiabudi.
For Setiabudi, developing the Gachi Sushi and Noodles brand has been an ongoing learning process. During the spring and summer, she recommends passengers try the sushi; in winter she recommends ramen noodle soup.
Setiabudi is also a franchisee of Smash Burger at Washington Dulles Airport (IAD) and plans to open another Gachi Sushi and Noodles location at Boston Logan Airport (BOS) later this year.
Although Setiabudi and her husband faced many challenges, they continuously made an effort to learn about the different aspects of operating a business, gaining permits, and understanding taxes.
Dan Food Service Corporation is an Airport Concession Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (ACDBE), and Setiabudi appreciates programs like this that level the playing field for several people, including women like her.
In 2017, Gachi House of Sushi at BWI was on USA Today’s Top 10 list for Best Sit-Down Dining. In 2018 and 2019, Gachi Sushi and Noodles at PHL received the Edgie Awards for Best Quick Serve among other awards.
“We feel appreciated when we win local, regional and international awards,” said Setiabudi. “It keeps us motivated to stay creative and unique.”
Setiabudi enjoys receiving suggestions by her staff of 35 people who are all diverse in age, gender, and ethnic backgrounds. Through listening to her customer-facing employees, Gachi Sushi & Noodles introduced fun new concepts with a play on words like brushi (breakfast sushi) and frushi (fruit sushi).
“America is a diverse country, and the airport is a diverse city within a city,” said Setiabudi. “What excites me about Philadelphia is the diversity. The beauty of it is everyone comes from different nationalities and brings something positive and comes up with something good.”