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Exploring Life & Business with Ivan Jin of Sweet Shiba Desserts

Today we’d like to introduce you to Ivan Jin.

Hi Ivan, we’re thrilled to have a chance to learn your story today. So, before we get into specifics, maybe you can briefly walk us through how you got to where you are today?
I used to work in an Asian restaurant in Boston for over five years, also cooking is one of my favorite things in life. In 2019 summer I moved to Orlando from Long Island, NY, with my wife, my toddler boy, my dog and my cat while I was still working for my old New York company as a remote travel agent. Living in Orlando for months, my wife and I happened to see lack of authentic Asian cuisine would lead to huge investment potential. We used to talk about opening a dog or cute themed restaurant of the cafe when we were in New York, and we were fond of our dog breed, Shiba inu very much. So my wife combined the cute Shiba-themed and her favorite food, which were Asian style dessert and street food together, which instilled the foodie spot a trending also unique value.

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Of course, it is not. As a first-time restaurant owner, I’ve met so many dilemmas. The first thing is about hiring. Back in New York and Boston, there were many experienced cooks who understood authentic Asian cuisine very much. But in Orlando, we needed more training time and an integrated training system since local people and newcomers were not familiar with the Asian street food, boba tea and Asian desserts very much. The second thing was short of family support. Both of our parents don’t live in the U.S as their primary residency location. Usually, my parents-in-law came to visit us every year, so they could be able to help us take care of our son.

In 2020 because of covid-19, they could not come, we don’t have any other relatives at all; so for my wife, she had to take care of our son, ran the cafe’s errands, and worked as marketing staff, customer service, operating almost every business thing all herself. For me, I had to work alone in the cafe to save the labor cost to help us survive thru the pandemic. The third one was our bad luck. My cafe opened in January 2020, right before the pandemic of covid-19, which means we had to spend more on marketing and operating, dealing with money loss, paying more attention to virus protection. Sadly as a newly opened business, we could not submit documents about any year’s tax return at all, so we could not get enough economic support from SBA programs.

Great, so let’s talk business. Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
Our cafe Sweet Shiba Desserts, is the only Shiba Inu themed cafe in the U.S and the only one cafe that carried Asian style desserts like Mochi and assorted crepe cakes in Central Florida. We specialized in boba tea, fruit tea, all kinds of crepe cakes, fresh handmade mochi, Asian street food like JianBing, takoyaki, chicken cutlets, bubble waffle and Peking style chicken burrito. We were known in Orlando as the best crepe cakes, best authentic Asian street food and cutest Shiba decorations and related gifts.

There are too many independent and chained boba tea shops in Orlando in the past year; different from high-profit low cost chained boba tea shops, our drinks are all made with natural and real ingredient, like using real peach, pineapple, watermelon to make fruit tea, all handmade no powder ingredient to make Hong Kong famous drink Mango sago in coconut milk (yangzhiganlu) and taro fresh milk. For crepe cakes, we use Grade matcha powder to make the yummiest but healthiest fresh matcha crepe cakes; I truly understand additives could make prettier decoration cakes, but our goal is putting guests’ health first place. We could make elegant, cute and edible customized cakes for our guests’ occasions as well. Most of our guests do enjoy our kawaii culture and atmosphere, pets are super friendly in our cafe as long as they are leashed. Yummies plus cute fur friends, making our cafe the most unique and must-visit spot on I Drive of Central Florida.

What were you like growing up?
I grow up in a small city of the Northeastern part of China. My childhood was quite common, like most Chinese kids. What is a little different was I love eating Chinese food like dumplings and buns very much, I began to cook on my own when I was a teenager. I missed the food taste and feelings when I came to the U.S ten years ago. Cooking was my enthusiasm, it brings me back to my beautiful childhood memories.

Contact Info:

  • Email: sweetshibaorlando@gmail.com
  • Website: www.sweetshibaorlando.com
  • Instagram: @sweetshibadesserts
  • Facebook: sweet shiba desserts
  • Yelp: sweet shiba desserts
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