Grocery store sushi takes off: SNOWFOX opens 96 new kiosks in Wisconsin

The new kiosks have popped up at Pick n' Save, Metro Market and Sendik's stores in recent months.

Mar. 7, 2022 (ONMILWAUKEE) — You may have noticed a new sushi kiosk popping up at your local Pick n’ Save, Metro Market or Sendik’s store in recent months.

The new kiosks are part of a record expansion for Houston-based SNOWFOX, one of the largest operators and franchise owners of sushi kiosks in the U.S. In fact, since it was founded in 2005, the brand has established over 1,200 full-service sushi kiosks across 38 states.

Wisconsin is among the newest markets for SNOWFOX, which established a record number (96) of kiosks in the state during 2021, making Wisconsin home to the second highest number of SNOWFOX franchisees in the U.S.

Sushi made fresh

The company’s growth can be largely attributed to both its competitive pricing and their focus on sourcing high quality, sustainable seafood, backed by a partnership with Colorado-based FishChoice.

“Our kiosks have a full assortment of options with shelves full of products,” says SNOWFOX CEO Stacy Kwon. “Even moreso, they are equipped with chefs that are willing to greet and assist customers. For us it’s not enough for our chefs to just make sushi, we have a pipeline of innovation to keep our kiosks ahead of competition and keep our sushi program exciting, relevant, and our goal is to always elevate the overall customer experience.”

Kwon says that the sushi chefs are part of what sets the company apart.

“Sushi is a show business,” she says. “Our kiosks are a highlight and typically the main attraction for our retail partners’ delis. Having a manned sushi bar kiosk enables us to provide fresher products and for our chefs to engage directly with customers. Snowfox has four procurement offices globally to ensure the highest quality products at the lowest cost to consumers while navigating the common outages due to COVID’s impact on the supply chain.”

Humble beginnings

Despite its swift expansion, Kwon says the company actually sprung from humble beginnings.

“When my father lost his business and hope of rebuilding again in Korea, our family immigrated to the United States,” she says. “I was 16 years old at the time. When we came across the opportunity to operate our first kiosks within Kroger, we realized we found a gem.”

Originally called JFE, the company started with five stores, adopting a franchise model under JFE Franchising Inc. in 2013.

“We loved the idea that every kiosk we open is a job opportunity to another family that may have experienced similar struggles as our family,” says Kwon.  “The inspiration of this business started with a family that had a strong drive to provide a safe and successful future for other small business owners.”


By Lori FredrichSenior Writer & Dining Editor

YO! merges with large US sushi operator

How is this company pairing with Kroger to introduce 56 in-store restaurants in the retailer's backyard?

July. 2, 2019 (SEAFOOD SOURCE) — London, United Kingdom-based YO! is merging with SnowFox, one of the largest operators and franchise owners of sushi kiosks in the United States.

The merger, which creates one of the largest Japanese food companies outside of Japan, according to YO!, aimes to capitalize on the USD 1 billion (EUR 885 million) sushi market.

The financial details of the merger, facilitated by Mayfair Equity Partners, were not disclosed.

Following this merger, the expanded group, made up of SnowFox, YO!, Bento Sushi, and Taiko Foods, will consist of four fast-growing businesses with USD 425 million (EUR 376 million) of sales, including franchisees’ sales, YO! said in a press release. Nearly two-thirds of the sales originate in North America. 

JFE Franchising, Inc. (operating as SnowFox), a wholly-owned subsidiary of Jim Kim Holdings, is the third-largest sushi kiosk business in the U.S., managing more than 700 full-service sushi kiosks across 25 U.S. states, primarily in supermarkets. 

With the merger, the expanded group will have partnerships will many leading retailers across North America and the U.K. including Kroger, Loblaws, Walmart, Sobeys, Waitrose, Sam’s Club, and Tesco, as well as operating 1,400 kiosks, seven central kitchens and 89 restaurants.

“We are delighted to be partnering with SnowFox given its high brand penetration, recognized product and service quality, as well as excellent industry relationships,” YO! CEO Richard Hodgson said in the statement.

Building on the successful integration of Bento Sushi starting in 2017, YO! will look to replicate this approach with SnowFox as it continues to execute its diversification strategy, Hodgson added. 

“By expanding its geographical presence and offering, the expanded group will meet the untapped demand of consumers around the world,” he said.

The U.S. grocery sushi market has more than USD 1 billion (EUR 885 million) in annual sales and is growing around 13 percent year-on-year, with Japanese cuisine seen as one of the fastest-growing food types across the globe, according to YO!.

SnowFox Chairman Jim Kim will join the board of the combined group, as well as remaining a significant shareholder. SnowFox President Stacy Kwon and Bento Sushi CEO Glenn Brown will become co-presidents of the group’s North American operations, responsible for driving growth and executing the group’s strategy. They will both report to CEO Richard Hodgson.


Christine Blank


Meet Stacy Kwon of JFE Franchising

HOUSTON, May. 9, 2018 (VOYAGEHOUSTON) — Today we’d like to introduce you to Stacy Kwon.

Before we begin, let’s go over the history of JFE Franchising, aka SNOWFOX, first.

JFE Franchising, Inc. was established in 2005 with 5 Kroger stores in Houston Division. Since then, we have expanded into 10 Divisions with Kroger, Sam’s Club, WinCo, Albertsons, King Soopers, Fry’s Food and Drug, Fresh Market, and other retailer grocery banner.

“Over the past 12 years in business, JFE’s sushi program has seen exponential growth due to our strong relationships with our retail partners,” said Stacy Kwon, President. “JFE is also in the process of pipeline growth with other supermarket retailers to add to their full-service sushi program contributions.”

Today, JFE’s SNOWFOX Sushi Brand can be seen in over 700 locations across the US.

According to that press release, JFE’s SNOWFOX Sushi’s freshly prepared quality sushi is a great way to shine a spotlight on the supermarket deli scene — through the company’s trained chefs, serving fresh sushi to new customers every day. In total, the company’s SNOWFOX locations have sold 1.1 billion sushi packages.

We cannot look at a company without looking at the root that holds it together, what made you decide to jump in this industry?

When my parents first moved to the U.S., we started off with nothing. Our family started a grocery store/house in the tough part of the neighborhood where robbery was frequent. Everyday we were worried about our safety but we carried on.
I started this business because I experienced how tough it can be for people to move to a new country and start a new life. And I want to provide a safe and easy way to build a new life for people out there who want to provide nice and comfortable environment for their family, like I do. This is how the JFE Franchising started, to provide a way to build up a life with minimum investment in safer environment with guidance.

What is the most important part of the business to you and how would you like to be remembered in this company?
People. I think that the most important part of the business is meeting the right person to work with. Who you work with or start the business with can determine the direction of how the business grows. I want to be remembered as the person who helped building a comfortable and safe work environment for everyone who work at or with the JFE Franchising.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
As there are multiple competing sushi franchise management companies in this US. We had to prove to each division deli merchandiser, SNOWFOX’s quality and superior management. Our business is all about winning the hearts of our client grocer banners, franchised chefs, and customers. Currently, JFE/SNOWFOX holds the highest sales average per store in 10 Kroger Divisions and are the exclusive sushi provider for 4 top Kroger Divisions.

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about JFE Franchising, Inc. – what should we know?
Sushi is different from other perishables. It’s show business. The JFE sushi bar model is unique. We’ve helped our retail partners ride the rising tide of sushi’s popularity with kiosks in visible, high-traffic areas of their stores, enlivening their fresh fare atmosphere. We also place a high priority on customer engagement, sales development, and food safety. JFE has taken sushi back to its show business origins with the same quality and appeal of upscale restaurants but ready on-the-go in our customers’ own neighborhoods, universities and travel hubs. JFE Franchising, Inc. grants franchises for its franchisees to operate sushi bars under the trade name “SNOWFOX” as separate departments in supermarkets, grocery stores and other facilities.

Sustainability Award 2018
Kroger is improving performance today to protect tomorrow for future generations. Kroger has ambitious sustainability goals, thoughtful plans to drive innovation, strong partnerships and committed associates.

In the Kroger Supplier Inclusion for 2018, SNOWFOX was the first full-service sushi vendor to receive the Sustainability Award. Since 2012, JFE/SNOWFOX has taken the direction as a company to prioritize sustainability of seafood as a company-wide initiative.

Contact Info:

Address: 2021 Bingle Rd.
Houston, TX 77055
Phone: 713-463-7777

JFE Franchising Inc. Partners With Kroger to Bring 56 Snowfox Sushi Bars to Michigan Stores

How is this company pairing with Kroger to introduce 56 in-store restaurants in the retailer's backyard?

HOUSTON, Apr. 3, 2018 (DEL MARKET NEWS) — Beginning April 8th, 2018, JFE Franchising’s Snowfox Sushi Program is coming to 56 Kroger locations throughout the company’s Michigan division. These new additions will mark the fourth Kroger division to exclusively contract with JFE as its full-service sushi provider.

“Whether you’re a long-time sushi lover or trying it for the first time, we have a menu option for you that’s fresh, delicious, and exquisitely made right here in your neighborhood store,” said JFE Chairman Jim Kim, in a press release.

According to that press release, JFE’s Snowfox Sushi’s freshly prepared quality sushi is a great way to shine a spotlight on the supermarket deli scene—through the company’s trained chefs, serving fresh sushi to new customers every day. In total, the company’s Snowfox locations have sold 1.1 billion sushi packages.

“Over the past 12 years in business, JFE’s sushi program has seen exponential growth due to our strong relationships with our retail partners,” said Stacy Kwon, President. “JFE is also in the process of pipeline growth with other supermarket retailers to add to their full-service sushi program contributions.”

JFE Franchising currently manages over 700 locations in grocery stores and supermarkets across 29 U.S. states. Snowfox sushi cafés can be found in 10 Kroger Divisions as well as Sam’s Club, Winco, Supervalu, and other leading retail banners.

For more on prepared food solutions in the deli space, keep reading Deli Market News.


Snowfox and Smile Train

JFE Franchising, Inc. and Smile Train have been proud partners since 2016. Operating under their leading brand Snowfox, JFE Franchising, Inc. operates more than 1,000 full-service fresh sushi bars in wholesale, supermarket, retail, and other non-traditional settings. Under the leadership of its president, Stacy Kwon, Snowfox has grown to become the largest global retail sushi provider outside of Japan since its founding in 2005. Snowfox sushi bars and products are available in Kroger, WinCo Foods, Sam’s Club, King Soopers, Fry’s Food and Drug, Fred Meyer, Costco, Albertsons, Weis Markets, Hugo’s Family Marketplace, Nino Salvaggio, Vons, and Hornbachers.

The employees and executive staff of Snowfox have proudly established a tradition of supporting the work of Smile Train. With the opening of every new Snowfox fresh sushi bar, Snowfox makes a donation to Smile Train in the name of their chefs. This serves as a reminder to staff to always celebrate customers with a welcoming smile, while helping to share smiles globally by supporting Smile Train’s important work in expanding cleft care. This culture of giving is deeply ingrained at Snowfox, where caring for employees and their surrounding communities is a core value.

According to JFE Franchising President Stacy Kwon, “At Snowfox, we believe that embracing diversity frees everyone to grow and thrive as their truest, best selves. That’s why each franchise is a family-owned business, creating economic opportunities for employees and partners in their own communities.”

Smile Train’s Senior Director of Corporate Partnerships Justin McCarthy comments, “We are so grateful for the support of JFE Franchising. Our business models both thrive on the strength of a strategic, global model for quality and purpose that is delivered effectively on a very local level via qualified staff and superior products and service.” 

Celebrating the Success of Snowfox

To celebrate Snowfox’s latest partnership with Kroger, which recently added 156 franchisee locations to its stores nationally, Snowfox is generously making a gift of over $38,000 to Smile Train in 2021.

Snowfox and its employees will continue working with Smile Train to celebrate every franchise win and grow employee and customer engagement in Smile Train’s work.