Freshmen with a Fresh Take

Getting food late at night is similar to getting a 4.0 at Swarthmore; it’s feasible but it’s almost as though the school doesn’t want you to and it would be much easier anywhere else. In general, Swatties have accepted this and adjusted by either by stocking their dorm with their favorite foods or by having someone they’re friends with mostly because of their access to a car. While students saw the inaccessibility of late night food as a mild inconvenience, Henry Han ‘20 and Natasha Markov-Riss ‘20 saw it as an opportunity. After spending only two weeks on campus, they started talking about a way to improve late night food options.
“When I came to Swarthmore, I had a vision in mind — I wanted to make sushi for people because a lot of people really like sushi, and if I can make sushi for people, everybody is happy,” Han explained.
He began making sushi as a late night snack and sharing with friends. Word spread quickly, and before Henry knew it, his room was the place to be.
“I started making sushi, and though I only told a couple people, but my room was packed. I should have had a party permit,” Han said with excitement in his voice.
Markov-Riss connected the popularity of Han’s sushi to the demand for late night food, so she offered to become business partners with Han.
“I kept noticing that people were really hungry at night and Essie’s would close, or they wouldn’t want to walk there. The dining hall closes at, like, 8:30pm, and there just aren’t that many places that deliver. There just weren’t that many late night options. People would flock into Henry’s room for the sushi. I was, like, Henry, we should sell your sushi,” Markov-Riss shared.
Before people even began playing misery poker and complaining about midterms, Markov-Riss and Han started to construct their vision for Late Nite.
“We started talking about the possibility of actually selling his sushi, and came up with this business model of sushi delivery. We thought that, one, it would make people more inclined to order … they didn’t have to leave their dorm, and also, it would be a good business model for us because we wouldn’t have to have an actual cafe type space,” Markov-Riss said.
Han spent six months as a sushi apprentice in Washington learning how to properly prepare sushi. Markov-Riss has experience running a business from her dumpling food truck in Rhode Island and her golf cart rental business. Using their skills and experiences, they started collaborating. Han talked about how he heard about QuesaDrop’s success on campus and wanted to do something similar while also learning from their mistakes.
“What I heard about them was they got in a little trouble with the school because of how they operated, and so something we keep in mind is to be legitimate, do everything the right way… I serve raw fish — I have to make sure it’s sushi grade, and I’m handling it the right way,” Han said.
When asked about major roadblocks to starting their sushi delivery business, which initially began as dumplings and sushi delivery, they discussed the difficulty of securing materials for the sushi.
“We started trying to sell dumplings as well — it’s a little easier than sushi because, for sushi, we have to get fish. That’s why it took us so long to get started, just because fish is hard to get, especially sushi grade fish,” Han recounted.
Markov-Riss shared how the business has pivoted in their first four days of operation.
“We realized how many materials you needed and how complicated it is, so we said, let’s start even simpler. Let’s start selling frozen dumplings… we discovered we might want to veer away from the dumplings because, one, it’s hard to keep dumplings hot when delivering them, and two, they’re not as high quality as the sushi,” Markov-Riss said.
After selling out multiple nights, Markov-Riss and Han shared their experiences thus far with Late Nite and what they’re looking forward to in the coming weeks.
“We’re going to take things as they go, but we are really excited about growing and expanding and continuing to serve the Swarthmore community… We only have Henry as a sushi chef, which is our biggest limiting factor,” Markov-Riss said.
As they have grown and continue to grow they have both been surprised by the sense of community and people’s willingness to get involved with Late Nite.
“The other thing that has been really nice about this business is how eager the whole community is to actually help us. I’ve never been in a place where you tell someone about the idea and someone wanted to design us t-shirts, someone wanted to make us an app, people wanted to deliver for free. People were just so eager to help us … People just want to be a part of it, and that was so exciting and nice,” Markov-Riss said excitedly.
This has been an exciting year at Swarthmore. The OneCard has given us many more options during the day. Late Nite has made it their goal to solve after dinner food scarcity while even donating 10 percent of all profits to Swarthmore’s Alternative Party Fund. Whether you just want to see how the supportive and collaborative Swarthmore community can produce something great or you just want something to eat late at night, Late Nite is something to check out.

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