Mexican sushi chef from East LA owns 3 restaurants after serving time in prison, turning his life around

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Monday, September 23, 2019
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Frank Mendoza is a Mexican-sushi chef from East Los Angeles who owns three restaurants and manages 120 employees. His culinary journey started in 2010 after being released from prison.

DOWNEY, Calif. (KABC) -- There are sushi fans and there are Mexican-food fans, those who identify with both are making their way to 'El Sushi Loco'.

A restaurant owned by Francisco 'Frank' Mendoza, an East Los Angeles native, who's been serving Mexican sushi since 2010.

"It was originated from a nephew of mine named Jose who works with me," said Mendoza. "He was a suchero (sushi master), that's what they call them in Culiacan, Sinaloa."

Mendoza's nephew taught him the craft and they opened up a sushi cart, which was originally a hot dog cart they bought off of Craigslist ad.

The cart is symbolic of the struggles Mendoza experienced earlier in life: failure, abandonment, drugs, alcohol and even prison.

"I was able to, you know, really use prison to turn my life around," said Mendoza. "I should have been dead by now."

Nine years later after being released from prison, Mendoza now owns three 'Sushi Loco' restaurants and manages 120 employees.

"Now at 44 years old, my life is whole," Mendoza said. "I found my purpose in life and that is to give back through food."

More about the restaurants here: