July 25 2012 12:00 AM

Maru Sushi & Grill


The big scoop this week is that Maru Sushi & Grill is branching out with not one but two new locations, becoming the latest Lansing business success story. Owner/operator Robert Song confirmed that he will open another restaurant by the end of winter 2013 in the spot recently abandoned by the Middle Eastern restaurant Ali Baba — previously, it was the site of the upscale American eclectic All Seasons Bistro — in the plaza located at 1500 Lake Lansing Road on the corner of Coolidge Road.

This will be the third location for the 4-year-old Okemos-based sushi restaurant, following Maru’s forthcoming expansion in Grand Rapids, which is scheduled to open within the next six weeks.

So things must be pretty good, right?

“´Pretty good´ is an understatement,” says Song, a Michigan State University graduate. “I’m a growth-minded businessman, so I’ve been thinking about expanding for awhile. I’ve worked hard to assemble a good group of people and if I stop growing, I stop giving the opportunities that might be available to my team members.”

Song says he wanted to start his East Lansing expansion last year, but a lack of ideal locations led him to look to the west side of the state first. While the Grand Rapids location is new construction, the East Lansing spot, near US-127 and the bustling Eastwood Towne Center, will see some significant reworking of the existing building.

“This is going to be an epic construction,” Song said. “New bar, new kitchen, new dining room. Even the landlord isn’t going to recognize it when we’re done.”

Song is continuing to develop his original location as well.

With its massive open-air patio facing Meridian Mall, Maru was already the only place in town for al fresco sushi dining. But Song recently acquired an outdoor liquor license as well. He said he’s also planning to add some shaded areas to the patio, and an outdoor music permit (still pending) will allow diners to sip wine and listen to live jazz over their specialty Soy Joy or Mahalo rolls.

So, are there more Marus twinkling in Song’s eyes?

“Obviously, we’ll wait and see how the new locations do before we jump into anything else, but yes, that’s the plan,” Song said. “As we continue to expand, we may come up with different concepts, but core values will stay the same: quality, freshness and a desire to give the best service possible. By the beginning of next year, we’ll probably be able to decide whether we feel self-sufficient to continue to grow. And really, I’m prepared to go anywhere. The sky’s the limit.”

Maru Sushi & Grill

5100 Marsh Road, Suite A1, Okemos

Lunch is served 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Monday-Thursday; 11:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday

Dinner is served 4-9:30 p.m. Monday-Thursday; 3-9:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday; 4-9 p.m. Sunday

Sushi happy hour (with half-off specials) is 4-5:30 p.m. Monday-Thursday; 3-5 p.m. Friday and Saturday; 4-9 p.m. Sunday

(517) 349-7500