Sushi Maki is set to open in Coconut Grove at 2550 S. Bayshore Dr. this Saturday, April 15, marking the local Japanese chain's seventh standalone location. With the expansion comes a significant transformation in the restaurant's service. Sushi Maki's founder, Abe Ng, calls it "fine casual."
"We like to say that the Grove is our new sweet spot," he says. "It's the perfect example of the evolution of Sushi Maki."
According to Ng, customers will place orders and pay at a counter. Then they will be escorted to a dining area where they will be served by waitstaff. Diners can also expect complimentary Wi-Fi, two hours of free parking, and charging stations at nearly every table. The new outpost brings a major change, because more than half of Sushi Maki's 19 locations are inside Whole Foods Markets or on university campuses.
Every Sushi Maki eatery, from Coral Gables to Kendall and Palmetto Bay, is different from the others, and the Coconut Grove spot is no exception. In an effort to cater to the needs of customers in the area, Ng decided it would be a smart idea to implement the restaurant's updated dining concept.
"We designed it so customers could come in, eat, and get back to their day,” he says. “Want somewhere to sit for a while? Camp out with us. The dining is as customizable as the food itself.”
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The menu will feature many of the brand's signature offerings ($4 to $20), including chicken 'n' waffle rolls, sashimi, ramen, poke bowls, and bubble tea. Expect a few new items too, such as volcano fries — kanikama salad, spicy mayo, eel sauce, and seaweed strips — a beef bowl, tempura Oreos, and mochi ice cream.
"We’ve always loved Coconut Grove," he says. "For many years, we couldn’t find the [right] spot in the neighborhood. But when this location opened next to a marina, we knew we had a location we couldn’t pass up."
In October 2015, Ng partnered with James Beard Award-nominated chef Phillip Speer to debut a "lighter and brighter" menu offering more local and sustainable seafood options, which will be carried into Sushi Maki's Coconut Grove location.