Zarah Matsuda has her plate full

Caitlyn Croppi, News Editor

Known at Liberty for being the mastermind behind the L’Cafe, Zarah Matsuda. the Culinary Arts teacher is taking on the new endeavor of co-owning a restaurant: Finn’s Bistro, on Front Street in Issaquah.
“It just kind of happened. My husband and I originally found another restaurant and started the process with a broker, but that fell through,” Matsuda said.
Matsuda wasn’t unhappy with her job at Liberty, and owning a restaurant wasn’t something she ever thought she wanted.
“There was a moment in culinary school where I wanted my own restaurant, but then when I started working in restaurants, I saw how incredibly stressful, risky, and intense it is, so I decided I would stick to the whole chef thing as a teacher,” Matsuda said.
So why the change of heart?
She was made an offer she couldn’t refuse.
A friend knew the couple was interested in the restauranteur life and told them Finn’s was going on sale. This was the perfect situation–Finn’s already had a following, a prime spot on Front Street, a good menu, and a functional building.
“We bought it with another couple that are our friends. Both of them are amazing chefs too. So far, it has worked really well for us, and it’s really fun to see another side of the Issaquah community and how it all connects,” Matsuda said.
Matsuda is staying at Liberty while working as the creative director at Finn’s.
“I do not think my role at Finn’s has affected the L’Cafe at all,” Matsuda said.
But her students disagree. Senior Emma Colton is a third-year manager at the L’Cafe, and is personally interested in going to culinary school.
“What Chef Matsuda is doing is inspiring. Sometimes, as a student, you feel like there are only one or two paths after high school. But Chef Matsuda continually shows us that we can do anything we want. You just have to be passionate enough, give it time, and take advantage of the opportunities given to you,” Colton said.