Michelle Wang is establishing her first corporate office, located in the Vista, as she grows her restaurant empire in Columbia. Wang plans to open her ninth restaurant in the same building next year.
“We actually don’t really have a corporate office,” said Wang, who runs eight restaurants throughout the Midlands, including Miyo’s, M Café and her newest venture, M Fresh, which opened five weeks ago at 1237 Washington St.
Since Wang started the first restaurant at age 26 in 1996, she and the rest of her management team have been working out of restaurants and home offices, she said.
The new corporate space for M Gourmet Group at 530 Lady St. has 3,000 square feet for meetings and training, Wang said, as well as a chance to be more organized. The group recently bought the building, along with the adjacent 3,000-square-foot space for $520,000, according to broker NAI Avant.
The space next door to the corporate office will be Wang’s ninth restaurant, M Grille. It will be a mix between nearby M Vista and M Fresh, she said.
Like M Fresh , M Grille will offer healthier options for consumers, Wang said, such as fresh-squeezed juice, a variety of teas and entrees built around fresh vegetables and lean meats.
Wang always has emphasized healthy foods. But, now 42, she says she has noticed her energy and metabolism decreasing, as well as that of some of her regular customers. As a result, she has sharpened her focus on healthy fare. She also caters to many doctor’s offices that want healthier food.
“I always think of how can we use our cooking method to maximize the nutrients in the food,” she said.
At the new M Fresh, Wang tries to avoid using white flour, white sugar, sugary soft drinks and fried food. And she uses better oils, and buys fresh fruits and vegetables every day for preparing foods.
“People feel better” when they eat better food, she said. But many opt for less nutritious fast food because there are not enough healthy options available, she said.
“If we can open more locations that are accessible, people can pick up a clean salad, a good wrap, a good sandwich,” she said. “Their physical feel will be definitely be different.”
M Grille, which she hopes to open in about a year, will use similar healthy ingredients, focusing on tapas, salads and dumplings with an Asian flair.
Despite the biggest economic downturn in a lifetime, Wang said her restaurants have grown steadily over the past 16 years by working smart and reinvesting profits.
“Every day, you think about how you can make your business better,” she said.
The cosmetics store Ulta is the newest tenant at Cross Hill Market on Fort Jackson Boulevard, near where Devine Street becomes Garners Ferry Road, developer Edens said this week. Ulta will take a 9,400-square-foot spot near Jamie Scott Fitness. It joins anchor Whole Foods and a variety of other retailers, all of which plan to open about October.
• Sadie’s American Cafeteria will open Tuesday in Richland Mall. Owner David Martin, who also runs Tronco’s Catering from the site, had hoped to open by Mother’s Day but ran into permitting issues.
• Another highly anticipated restaurant, Biscuit House, will open in its new location on Garners Ferry Road, across from Lower Richland High School, on Wednesday. Word is former owner Gene Sansbury will stop by the grand opening for a taste.
• At Columbiana Centre, in Irmo’s Harbison area, several changes are in store. Things Remembered opens is newly relocated store today. Love Culture will open a new 9,800-square-foot store Wednesday. Also, next week, Spencer’s and Bourbon Street Grill will open their newly remodeled stores. The long-anticipated Sephora will open June 15 in its 5,109-square-foot location. Best Buy Mobile plans to open a 942-square-foot store June 20. Last week, Chick-fil-A opened its newly remodeled store, and Lids opened its relocated and expanded store.
• Curves women’s gyms will give away 1 million 30-day memberships next week, during National Women’s Health Week. Any non-member who visits a club during regular operating hours Sunday through May 19 will receive a membership. Special wellness clinics will be offered Thursday. For Columbia-area locations, go to curves.com.