Young and old businesses receive recognition

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Douglas J has been a business in Okemos since 1967

By Alyssa Firth
Meridian Times staff writer

Oscars weren’t the only awards handed out this past weekend. Two local businesses have received awards from the Meridian Asset Resource Center. Maru Sushi & Grill restaurant has received the emerging entrepreneur award and the heritage award went to Douglas J Salon and Day Spa.

Established in 2008, MARC came out of MSU Extension and provides a number of opportunities and materials for businesses in Meridian Township.

“The MARC is basically a collection of resources to both encourage entrepreneurship and help entrepreneurs,” business consultant Gordon Ferguson said.

This is the second year that MARC has given out awards. Curt Munson’s Playmakers received the heritage award and Lilian Chavira’s Gellocake received the emerging entrepreneurship award in 2010.

MARC looks for businesses that have shown success and are doing something different in the community. Maru, which opened in March of 2009, has continued to grow and make a name for itself in the East Lansing and Meridian area.

“I knew there was a lack of hip and fun in (other Japanese themed restaurants),” owner Robert Song said.

Born in Korea and an MSU alumnus, Song had been running restaurants for 11 years before opening his first restaurant. To set himself apart, Song said he uses better ingredients and spends time presenting his meals in an eye-catching manner.

“As a chef, I get impressed when I see someone who has been trained and has taken the time to present (a meal) to me,” Song said.

Maru chefs let the ingredients do the cooking and transform them to make unique plates.

For those who don’t eat fish, Maru’s menu has a wide variety of choices. Roughly 50 percent of all sales go to non-sushi items. By cooking in traditional Japanese ways, Song said he lets his ingredients do the work and adds a contemporary touch with his presentation and style.

“If you enjoy finer things in life, especially food, you’re mine,” Song said.

The heritage award goes to a business that has been around for at least 10 years and is very involved in giving back to the community. Douglas J Spa & Salon has been in Okemos since 1967, second to the original Douglas J salon in East Lansing.

Song said he is honored by the award and hopes to continue to grow.

“Improvement can only be achieved if you maintain something,” said Song. “In the coming years, we would like to continue to do what made us successful.”

View MARC Award Winning Businesses in a larger map

3 thoughts on “Young and old businesses receive recognition

  1. I particularly enjoyed your lead about the Oscars, and how you used the very popular awards show to make readers interested in your story. I also liked your images of the local businesses to show the companies that were recognized.

  2. I thought this was an interesting story. I liked your lead and how you compared the awards to the Oscars. It made me want to read on. I also thought it was interesting that Song is an MSU alumnus. It really localized the story. Good Job!