Kyu Utsunomiya & Troy Watkins, Conceptually Social

Keeping Business Strong

from Kyu Utsunomiya & Troy Watkins

Help doesn’t just happen, however badly it’s needed — as the situation in Texas last month made abundantly clear. Our leaders should be recognized for the effort to provide aid to help businesses remain functioning and especially at the local level to orchestrate that relief.

March of 2020 caught so many of us off guard and unprepared. As partners in a small, local Phoenix restaurant and catering company, we didn’t have many options for cash influx that wasn’t based upon our sales. Our reserve cash levels would only get us through April and we were facing some significant decisions. Being fortunate to having connected well with the DTPHX community, it wasn’t long before we learned of life lines to grants and other forms of financial support. Local First’s Arizona Rent & Mortgage Relief Grant, the Arizona Community Foundation’s Maricopa County Small Business Relief Program and, as well, the State of Arizona’s Safest Outside Restaurant Assistance Program were all crucial elements of local-level financial support that have helped our company survive this pandemic almost one year later. 

The federal government’s SBA Paycheck Protection Program was the final enormous piece of relief that ensured our ability to keep our hardworking employees with jobs and a paycheck. As we await finalization and hopeful approval for the second round of federal stimulus (Round 2 PPP), we are encouraged of our ability to continue to survive this challenging time and allow our businesses the time to build sales and stay very optimistic to a time when “normal” can return.

The cover story this month reviews these stimulus efforts, examining the effect on broad segments of our business community. Economists, economic development professionals and leaders of funding institutions are among the experts who discuss the effects being experienced throughout our economy locally — and where that is likely to take us going forward. 

Addressing other current hot topics, attorney Courtney Beller discusses legal considerations in “Repurposing Real Estate Use?” as the market experiences changes in retail, office and other commercial real estate, and Doc Elliot continues his series on preventing workplace violence with “Communication Tips to De-escalate Conflict in the Workplace.”

Normal, day-to-day operations also require attention, and employee engagement remains a key concern among employers. In today’s fluctuating environment, “normal” can be tweaked to accommodate changed circumstances, and Mike Metz’s article “Adapting Content Strategies to Grow Employee Happiness” offers suggestions for actions and activities business leaders can apply to their own organization.

And putting particular focus on the nonprofit sector — which contributes significantly to the state’s economy — this March edition of In Business Magazine includes the 2021 Giving Guide to help the for-profit community prepare its support of Arizona Gives Day, coming up on April 6.

I am pleased to be part of binging this edition of In Business Magazine to you. Enjoy the read.


Kyu Utsunomiya
Conceptually Social

Troy Watkins
Conceptually Social

Conceptually Social is comprised of CS Catering, The Larry and Kaizen Sushi + Omakase. Established in 2014 and having started its presence with The Dressing Room & Be Coffee in the Roosevelt Row neighborhood of DTPHX, Conceptually Social looks to continue its growth within the urban core of Phoenix. Team members currently number more than 30; Utsunomiya and Watkins hope to grow Conceptually Social back to its pre-COVID-19 size of more than 100. 

Future projects are currently focused on two concepts within a DTPHX multifamily community within the Phoenix Warehouse District and possibly a second location of Kaizen in the Biltmore or Arcadia neighborhoods of Phoenix.

Utsunomiya and Watkins created Conceptually Social with more than 30 years’ experience each in the restaurant and hospitality industry. Meeting at the beginning of their careers at The Phoenician Resort as pool attendants and servers, they continued working for some of the Valley’s best-known restaurant companies, including Houston’s Restaurants, Fox Restaurant Concepts, Roy’s Hawaiian Fusion and Upward Projects.

Speak Your Mind

In Business Dailies

Sign up for a complimentary year of In Business Dailies with a bonus Digital Subscription of In Business Magazine delivered to your inbox each month!

  • Get the day’s Top Stories
  • Relevant In-depth Articles
  • Daily Offers
  • Coming Events