Lovely Day and Ni Japanese Deli will work together to make a bento box for Sunday brunch. Kazusa Jibiki is the proprietor of one of the most understated, lasting fixtures of NoLita: Lovely Day Restaurant. She began in Tokyo consulting as a designer for Hamano Institute on restaurant and product design. She has also worked for Marc Jacobs Japan, NY for 8 years and her own venture Rhyme NY where she designed and distributed accessories such as belts, hairbands and bags.

After her stint in the fashion industry, she decided to return to that dream of running her own restaurant. “I coincidentally met a few people who owned restaurants in this area, so I started spending a lot of time with them so I could see how restaurants work in New York.”

Jibiki created a budget informed by her mini-apprenticeship, and secured an SBA loan to open her restaurant. Thanks to the area’s relative affordability at the time, she was able to secure a space in need of some TLC for cheap. (“This was just vegetable storage; it was really raw,” she recalls. “It didn’t have a door, it just had a gate.”)

The first few years of Lovely Day were challenging, largely due to her lack of experience. “I didn’t really know how to run a restaurant,” she admits. “It was very challenging to be a restaurateur without [first] working as a waitress or a manager at a restaurant.”

She had a few friends in the neighborhood who would stop by the restaurant for meals, but she wanted to appeal to more than just her friends to keep the business going. Jibiki leaned on the experience of friends and early employees to set Lovely Day on the right track: A friend who happened to be a Thai chef helped solidify the unique menu, and one her bartenders who had 15 years of experience offered to be an affordable restaurant manager.