Grand Rapids, MI
Twelve years ago a dream was put into motion as Robert Song, with his extensive knowledge and experience in food service, began the journey of building his restaurant business from the ground up. With assistance from his right-hand man, Chef Moon Yang, the first Maru location opened in Okemos, MI in the spring of 2009. From the beginning, the foundation of the business was built on the heart and passion of creating exceptional, chef-driven food for its guests. This foundation helped Maru expand from one restaurant to a total of seven restaurants across Michigan within just a few years. This growth is a testament to Maru’s dedication to creating consistency throughout its locations while still cultivating a culture that empowers its employees. Its been a delicate balance that has created a unique dining experience and has helped turn a dream into reality.
When you are intentional, you choose to make decisions and take actions on what’s important to you. After sitting down with Chef Ryan Wabeke and Chef Moon of Maru, it is clear that the success of Maru is no accident and it is very intentional. From the beginning, Robert Song created a business that was built with core values. He knew what he wanted to develop. This was no more evident than when he hired his first employee, Chef Moon. From the first time they had a conversation in TN, Robert knew Chef Moon was the person he needed to start his business. Chef Moon was not your normal sushi chef. He had a unique background (including working at Dollywood!) that was a little out of the box and that’s exactly what Robert was looking for. The intentional behavior of the business started with that first hire but it continues today in many aspects that have shaped it throughout the last 12 years. The core values of Maru have helped maintain the culture through a focused effort on people – both employees and guests.
Commitment to employees at Maru begins with providing them the tools to succeed not only at Maru but also for their overall professional development. One of the keys to this is their online training portal which provides employees the opportunity to become experts on menu items and restaurant processes. Along with this, accountability on a day-to-day basis is important to how Maru operates. Employees have responsibilities and with this comes a sense of ownership and belonging. Putting this mindset into practice is not always easy, but the result of this commitment has been a genuine buy-in by both managers and staff.
Another aspect of Maru’s intentional plan is its philosophy of food. A focus on doing the basics like rice exceptionally well is essential to them. This helps provide consistency throughout their core dishes at all locations. Superior Foods has been able to recently assist in creating this consistency with their basics. Maru has a line of signature sauces that are now produced for them at Superior. Being able to depend on Superior to produce these sauces exactly to their specifications has allowed Maru to focus on other core aspects of their business and give them more opportunities to be innovative. This is an example of how Maru’s foundation has opened the doors to new efficiencies and opportunities.
FEATURED MENU ITEM
Honey Garlic Shrimp
This delectable dish starts with chemical-free P&D Tail Off Shrimp (31-40) from Superior Foods. The shrimp, fried cauliflower, and haricot verts are all tossed in Maru’s house-made honey garlic sauce (made from their Fantasy sauce and Teriyaki sauce, which are now produced at Superior). It’s finished off with a garnish of crunchy tempura flakes, fried onions, mixed greens and, Rooster sauce. The dish is perfect for sharing or a meal for one. As with many of Maru’s dishes, it showcases the use of simple ingredients with robust flavors and attention to detail that shows through with every bite.
Detroit (temporarily closed) • East Lansing • Grand Rapids (Maru / Ando) • Kalamazoo • Midland • Okemos