A hotel tycoon, two doctors, an IT operator and two Subway franchisees walk into a bar. This may sound like the beginning of a bad joke, but it will soon be the norm for a group of friends who have come together as Rock Roll, LLC to open Arkansas’ first customizable sushi franchise How Do You Roll.

With a diverse background in business, finance, IT, medicine and more than 30 years of hospitality management and ownership experience it was a natural transition for the group of friends to venture into the restaurant business.

Born into the hotel business, the owners said they wanted to do something different that would diversify their portfolio.

"We know hotels like the back of our hand," said Virang Patel, director of marketing for Rock Roll, LLC. "We wanted to do something different, fun and challenging."

The group first found out about How Do You Roll through a friend who had visited the original restaurant in Austin, Texas. Their interest was furthered enhanced when the franchise was seen on the television show, Shark Tank.

How Do You Roll, or HDYR?, was founded by two brothers, Yuen and Peter Yung, who were born into a family business of owning and operating Chinese restaurants much like the guys of Rock Roll, LLC, and the hospitality industry.

Their goal in creating HDYR? is to reinvent the image of sushi, Patel said, and break some of the stereotypes that are often associated with the traditional Japanese dish.

Before HDYR?, sushi could typically be found either pre-made on a supermarket shelf or freshly prepared at an upscale sit-down restaurant.

Rock Roll, LLC is bringing the Natural State a casual dining atmosphere that delivers a quality product at an affordable price, said Devo Sitaram, managing director for Rock Roll, LLC.

"We have kids and felt like we could never take them out to a nice sushi place," he said. "How Do You Roll has a relaxed vibe where you can feel comfortable bringing your kids."

HDYR? provides customers with a casual dining experience where they walk through a customizable four-step process selecting their wrap and rice, veggies, meats and toppings. This way the customers can actually personalize their rolls.

"There’s nothing like that out here," Sitaram said, "and that’s why we fell in love with it."

A meal consisting of a six piece sushi roll and fountain drink will cost an average of $8 to $11.

The restaurant will serve traditional sushi fair, as well as grilled chicken and beef, and for the sushi-shy, HDYR? also offers noodle bowls and salad bowls.

With more square footage than was needed, the Conway location will include a full-service bar and lounge area with couches and WIFI accessibility.

Although the restaurant is a chain, Patel said, it still has that personal touch that every independent restaurant should have because the founders are directly involved in every decision.

"We talk directly to the CEO," he said. "He’s open to suggestions, and it really feels like we’re part of a family — not a corporate chain."

Conway’s HDYR? will be located at the Village at Hendrix next to Monrow Boutique. It is currently under construction, and expected to open this spring.

(Staff writer Michelle Corbet can be reached by email at michelle.corbet@thecabin.net or by phone at 505-1215. Send us your news at www.thecabin.net/submit)