On its opening day, the line at Sushi Remix snaked through the SVRC Marketplace in downtown Saginaw, circling outside and around the block.
“It just exploded!” says Alayna Wesener, who co-owns Sushi Remix with her husband, Aaron. “My husband had to leave his job to manage the restaurant full time. We quickly realized that we needed another location so we could be open six days a week and open for dinner,” she says. “Then we were given the most amazing opportunity to open a second location in Uptown Bay City with Shaheen Development. They literally built the entire thing for us.”
Poké Meets the Mainland
Located at 152 Uptown Drive in Bay City, Sushi Remix serves poké (poh-kay), a dish native to Hawaii. Meaning “cut pieces” or “little pieces”, traditional poké bowls go back generations and contain simple ingredients: a bed of rice topped with pieces of marinated raw tuna, soy sauce, and maybe onions or seaweed. Poké bowls on the mainland, however, are fairly new, and so is the way poké bowls are being prepared, containing a greater variety of protein, toppings, and sauces, many of which would normally be found in a sushi roll.
Wesener credits a fateful bite of poké in California for giving her the entrepreneurial itch to bring the dish to Michigan.
“About four years ago, I was running a half-marathon in California and I really wanted sushi for dinner,” she says. “When I searched for sushi, a poké restaurant popped up and I decided to try it. After my first bite I instantly said out loud, ‘Oh my gosh, I’m opening a poké restaurant so I can have this in Michigan!’”
One year ago, with the support and help of Aaron, family, and friends, Alayna made the leap to live that dream. “I learned about the opportunity to be a vendor at the SVRC Marketplace and knew it was our shot for Sushi Remix. It was honestly the easiest decision I’ve ever made. That night I went home, bought the website and designed the logo.”
Sushi Remix Makes a Splash at SVRC Marketplace
Mid-Michigan got its first taste of poké this summer at Sushi Remix, one of over 40 vendors in the new SVRC Marketplace in downtown Saginaw. Patrons can build their own bowl with any combination of proteins and toppings, or they can choose from six prepared options including the Californication, the Volcano, and the Veganrific.
Also on the menu at Sushi Remix is bubble tea, a black or green tea that is flavored with syrup. Then a scoop of boba, or juice-filled balls, is added to the tea, and the cup is sealed shut.
Anna Sanchez, a Bay City native, is excited to see something in the area she previously could only get in Lansing. “I will stand in line for 30 minutes for a bubble tea in East Lansing. I stop for one every time I’m there. I can’t believe I can get them here now!”
Bay City Meets Poké
On Thursday, November 15th, Sushi Remix was formally welcomed to Bay City with a bright green ribbon-cutting ceremony hosted by the Bay City Area and the Saginaw County Chambers of Commerce in Uptown Bay City. Alayna and Aaron smiled as they thanked the community for their overwhelming support.
“I refer to our customers and fans as our ‘Sushi Army’, and we couldn’t do it without them,” says Wesener.
The Sushi Army feels right at home in the new Bay City location. Wrapped in windows from floor to ceiling, the inside of Sushi Remix is as interesting as the food prepared there. Clear barstools, a chrome wall, and floors that mimic the surface of the moon welcome customers. “I wanted to create an environment that invited the customer to stay and enjoy themselves,” she says. “I would love for people to come, grab a bubble tea, and hang out here as they would do in a coffee shop. We are already thinking about hosting game nights or something like that in the future.”
The Weseners see their future as one that mixes in with the futures of other local businesses and employees.
“We can’t thank Hip Syrups enough. They have gone above and beyond to help us create ‘Remix Syrups’, our own line of natural syrups for the bubble tea, and The Gourmet Cupcake Shop for allowing us to sell one of my favorite desserts in the world, their macaroons and cookies!”
Alayna and Aaron also credit their success to their employees. “We have the best employees,” said Alayna. She added, “When we are hiring someone new, the most important quality we look for is kindness. Most everything else can be taught.”
Sushi Remix is not currently a franchise, and there are no immediate plans for a third location. “Not right this minute, anyway.” said Aaron Wesener. “But we are always thinking about the future.”
Until then, their Sushi-Army will continue to grow throughout Bay County and the Great Lakes Bay Region, ready to someday take the rest of Michigan by storm.