(C. Proxmire, Ferndale 115 News Wire, 9/2/2011)
(Also view this story in Between the Lines)
Lounging in comfortably flexible plastic café chairs and watching the passing Downtown Ferndale traffic while sipping a homemade smoothie and nibbling something exotic – say a cream cheese, spinach, bacon and mango roll – it’s easy to let one’s mind get lost in the paradoxes created by the new Grab & Go Sushi Co at 290 W. 9 Mile inside Affirmations.
Though it may not be what you’d expect to find in a gay community center, owners Joshua Taylor,23, and Jason Shock, 25, are happy to be in the same building as an LGBT library, art gallery, youth center, computer work area, and meeting rooms that serve many good purposes. “I’m happy to have a space to work in,” Taylor said. “Being able to serve people in a community I’m proud to be part of is a nice thing to wake up to every day.”
As you may have already guessed, Taylor is not your stereotypical sushi chef. But the sporty-looking white guy who looks even younger than his 25 years has been studying under experienced Japanese chefs for six years. “When I was 15 I got a job working as a dishwasher at Nami. On my second day I told them I wanted to be a sushi chef. I worked as an unpaid apprentice for a year under Simon Bennett who taught me in the classical Japanese tradition. It’s a lot like an internship where you work for the honor of being able to learn.” He has also worked at Inyo, Asa and Tom’s Oyster Bar. He said people often underestimate his sushi-making abilities based on their assumptions of what a sushi chef should be. But once they see the young expert hand roll an order on the counter before them, and taste its high-quality ingredients and unique flavors, the doubts diminish and they often become repeat customers.
Which leads to the next great mind-bender – the food. First off, expectations about sushi should be left at the door. “Sushi is not just raw fish,” Taylor said. “People always think that.” Grab & Go offers vegetarian rolls as well as traditional rolls – some with fish and others without. There are even some original gourmet creations that will shock and delight the sushi connoisseur. Look under “Chef’s Specialties” on the menu and you’ll find items like “cream cheese, spinach, bacon & mango,” “roasted duck, asparagus, spicy mixed greens with tangy orange drizzle,” and “prosciutto, herb goat cheese, red pepper with tomato basil sauce.”
Secondly, there are plenty of items on the menu that have nothing to do with sushi. Multiple sandwiches take up nearly a third of the menu, with American favorites such as Tom’s Grilled Cheese, BTL, Chicken Salad, Toasted PB&J, and Turkey Swiss. There are also homemade soups served in bread bowls, salads and smoothies. All items, even the gourmet sushi, are fresh, high-quality, quick and affordable.
Which ties into the most perplexing mystery of all – why does a place with such a variety of fare and a comfortable seating area call itself “Grab & Go SushiCo?”
That’s because Taylor and Shock have not just opened up a community center café. Grab & Go SushiCo began as a catering company which specializes in sushi. They also make packaged sushi for local grocery stores. “We approached Affirmations about wanting to rent the kitchen to make rolls for the catering business, and they came up with the idea of doing the cafe. It’s a good opportunity for us both.”
Because Grab & Go SushiCo has diversified services, it means that even on days when business still needs building up, there is still work to be done and income to be made. Their products are available in Hollywood Markets, Fresh Approach and Ferndale Foods.
Grab & Go SushiCo has also partnered with Affirmations in order to generate more support for its Team Affirmations in this year’s AIDS Walk Detroit, by featuring a specialty item. For each spicy tuna roll purchase, 50% of its proceeds will be donated to Team Affirmations.
To learn more about their catering service, retail products, or their Downtown Ferndale location, check out their website at www.grabandgosushico.com. Hours are: Monday-Thursday from 11am-10pm and Friday-Saturday from 11am to 11pm.
For additional information on catering services or menu items, please contact Jason Shock or Joshua Taylor at (248) 825-5338 or visit www.grabandgosushico.com.
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