HomeJapanese AmericanAsian American activist and sushi king Glen Gondo dies at 75

Asian American activist and sushi king Glen Gondo dies at 75

The man whose family opened the first Japanese restaurant in Texas in 1965 and went on to launch his own sushi empire has died following a short battle with cancer at 75, reports the Houston Chronicle.

Glen Gondo is known around Texas as the founder of Houston’s Japan Festival and a promoter of Japanese culture and representation. KTRK says that became important to him due to his parent’s experience being incarcerated during World War II.

Born in Los Angeles, he moved to Houston with his family as a teenager and went on to open his own catering service and then a sushi business after his parent’s restaurant shut down. Gondo’s Sushik set up kiosks in 290 H-E-B grocery stores around the state.

He also placed an emphasis on political representation, first organizing an Asian Republican group and then an Asian Democratic group. He felt it important for everyone to have a political voice, even if they disagreed with his own views.

Former Houston mayor Sylvester Turner called Gondo a “Japanese Houston community trailblazer” on X and describing him as a “key leader” on one of his final trade missions.

 He was also heavily involved in the community serving on several boards.

“I’m a salesman, and my English is very good,” Gondo once said to the Asia society. “So I figured being a part of these organizations would help eliminate stereotypes.”

Many credit Gondo with working behind the scenes for the benefit of the community. He will be remembered as someone with a lot of influence.

“When Gondo called you, you picked up that phone,” University of Houston political science lecturer Nancy Sims said to the Houston Chronicle. “He was the master of quiet power. He never wanted to be in a direct leadership position, but he made sure he looked after his community.”

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  1. First Japanese restaurant in Texas?
    There were about a dozen Japanese restaurants dating back to the early 1900s in Houston and San Antonio. They served a mix of Japanese, Chinese, Mexican and American foods. I know this because my grandfather owned one from 1920-late 1930s before selling to another Japanese immigrant who ran it until 1950s.


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