Open Doors Project
On April 1, 2011, Julia Aoki, Linda Reid  and Carmen Lam interviewed Lesley Joe (father), Peter Joe (son) and Sally Joe (daughter) as part of the Open Doors Project. Below is part of the transcript from the hour-long conversation with the Joe family (owners of Sunrise Soya Tofu and Sunrise Market).   

Carmen: This building [314], the outside still has the original façade, were there changes made to the 300 building when you bought it?

Lesley: I tore it down by myself, no machine, just with my two hands, and a 15-year-old schoolboy helped. The big lumber we hoist into a car. Each box we hulled to the car… The farmers came to pick up the wood to build a pigpen, that’s where they took the old building [the wood].

Sally: Yeah, we were always here. I remember little things that were around here… Shimizu used to make manju. I would just go up and down finding manju all the time. So there were two places that made the traditional manju. Shimizu had ones that looked like little yellow birds.

Sally: Most of our shoppers were Japanese.

Lesley: When New Year's came…

Sally: We had line-ups; from front of the store to the back.

Lesley: Me and your mother bunch the spinach all night to sell in the morning. Today the spinach arrive bunched. Before it was all loose, in wooden crates, big crates. We had to bunch it and grade it. So many hours and so much work.

Peter: In the ‘60s-‘70s we were a pretty significant grocer for the Japanese community. They know our tofu’s fresh. My dad got in all the Japanese vegetables and even the Japanese farmers would sell to us directly; the daikons, right dad?

Lesley: From California; Japanese farmers grew taro roots.

Sally: Those things were hard to find back then.

Lesley: I don’t think Japanese farmers in California grow [taros] anymore.

Peter: We were very well known in the Japanese community for the groceries and vegetables, it also helped that we were opened till 2.

Linda: Did you sell miso and…?

Sally: We sold Japanese products, too. We kept on adding and adding more stuff. It was like half of our groceries were Japanese. But now of course, you can buy Japanese food anywhere.