UT Center for Family & Privately Held Business

Toledo-based Magic Wok restaurants offer hot and healthy Asian cuisine

Nearly 30 years ago, Sutas Pipatjarasgit opened the Magic Wok in Toledo with the idea of serving customers hot and healthy meals – fast. Today, Magic Wok has grown to 13 locations in Ohio and Michigan.

Sutas is semi-retired, but his son, Tommy, now runs the business and has grown and modernized Magic Wok. “When my dad first started, it took off right away,” says Tommy, who grew up working in the restaurant. “Magic Wok was almost an instant success. He was able to open a second restaurant a couple years later. His idea was to serve fresh Asian food in an open kitchen so customers could see the food cooked right in front of them. My dad really worked hard along with my mom to perfect the concept. He’s still involved now, putting in his two cents on where we can improve or about new locations. It certainly is a family business. My wife works with me, and her focus is marketing and product development.”

Tommy emphasizes that Magic Wok is a local business. “People think we’re a national chain. But we were born here in Toledo, we raise kids here, and we want people to know they are patronizing a local business.”

The first restaurant opened in 1983 in the Franklin Park Mall, serving traditional Chinese cuisine. Today, Magic Wok has a diverse menu, serving what Tommy calls “new-generation Asian cuisine.” Teriyaki chicken, Pad Thai, sweet and sour chicken, egg rolls, fried rice and more are some of the more popular items. The company just introduced Pot Stickers, which are crispy wonton wrappers filled with pork and vegetables, served with ginger-soy dipping sauce.

Food is cooked to order, so patrons can customize their dishes with the vegetables they want, with light oil or sauce, or served extra spicy. “We do it all,” Tommy says. He adds the food is also popular with kids, with Magic Work working with 10 local school lunch programs. Catering services are also available.

Most of the 13 locations are company owned, although two are franchised. Tommy says future plans include franchises and partnerships, but the current focus is company-owned locations. Magic Wok is looking to expand outside the Toledo area.

About 15 years ago, the company introduced Tropical Grill & Juice locations, now in both Ohio and Michigan. “They feature wraps and smoothies,” says Tommy, “and we have incorporated the smoothie into all of our stand-alone Magic Wok locations.”

Tommy says Magic Wok has greatly evolved in the past three decades. “We have modernized it with a contemporary design with a new logo and a new look,” he says. “But the concept is still the same as what my dad envisioned – fast, fresh, hot, and healthy food.”

If you have found this story to be interesting, informative, or inspiring, please let Tommy know! You can contact Tommy at 419-531-1818; email him at tommy@magicwok.com; or visit www.magicwok.com for more information or addresses for all locations.

This article was written by Bonnie Gretzner for Abec’s Small Business Review: http://www.abecssbr.com/toledo/

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