Victoria Rojas, the former co-owner and co-founder of the Sumi Robata Bar in Chicago’s River North neighborhood, set the perfect mood for the evenings at the place by welcoming all her guests with a warm smile and a glad attitude. What added further to the robatayaki concept was her authentic hospitality. “My approach to hospitality is to create an atmosphere that is very approachable and unpretentious. When you’re a guest at Sumi, I want you to feel as though you are being welcomed into our home.”
Victoria is a native of Miami, Florida. However, owing to her love affair with travel blooming at an early age, she considers herself a citizen of the world. And it was this very passion for exploration that took Victoria on trips all around Europe, Latin America, and Canada as well as various parts of Asia and Africa to the world’s best culinary destinations. Victoria moved to Chicago to pursue a career in finance. This was after she received her MBA in International Business from Lynn University in Boca Raton. It was during her time in Chicago that she met Chef Gene Kato. Chef Kato was then a rising culinary star who shared his dream for an independent concept with Victoria. It was level of skills that Chef Kato brought to his cuisine that struck Victoria, which clearly rivaled some of the best restaurants. Victoria, being a co-proprietor of Sumi, played a significant role in the restaurant’s business development sector. Prior to its opening, Victoria drowned herself completely in research and trend forecasting which led to a compelling business plan. “I come from a very hard working Colombian family. Growing up, I was taught that anything is possible with dedication, discipline and determination,” she says. “It is my belief that no one can stop you from accomplishing what you set out to achieve.”
The Sumi Robata Bar was opened to the public in January 2013 after three years of planning and development. It has received lots of acclaims from both diners and critics since its opening. Some of the titles include “Best New Restaurant” from Chicago magazine, “Best of Chicago” from Chicago Reader, and a “Critic’s Pick” from Time Out Chicago. In 2017, it won the Jean Banchet Award of Culinary Excellence as Chicago's Best Neighborhood Restaurant. “There’s nothing I enjoy more than getting to meet new people every day,” says Victoria.
According to Victoria, it has always been her irresistible enthusiasm that has earned her admiration from industry experts and guests alike. Her quickness in catering to the demands of not just the restaurant but her motherhood and career garnered her great editorial praise from Eater Chicago. Besides, she has also been named a top Local Influencer Mom in Chicago by Refinery 29 in 2013. The very next year 2014 saw her being declared as a Women of Style by CS Modern Luxury. Finally, in the year 2017, the SPLASH magazine had Victoria on their cover page, giving her the recognition of one of Chicago’s Single Ultra-Stylish and Successful Chicagoans. Victoria is well-connected with Chicago’s cultural scene, courtesy of her charitable efforts, one of the most prominent being the member of a host committee for the Academy for Global Citizenship’s Chef’s Playground events. She has also been a part of a Chicago panel in “The Great Love Debate” that has been featured on Bravo TV.
Victoria is a devoted mother to Antonio, her 9 year old boy. She loves spending time with her son, practicing yoga, Salsa and watching soccer. She enjoys travelling and exploring Chicago’s various culinary scenes with her family and friends.