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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/


Six area businesses honored for excellence

Six area businesses were recently announced as this year’s Entrepreneurial & Business Excellence Hall of Fame (EBE HOF) honorees.

Honored for business excellence are Burkett Restaurant Equipment, based in Toledo; Clouse Construction Corp., based in New Riegel; NovaVision Inc., based in Bowling Green; and Riker Products, based in Toledo. Mel Lanzer Company, based in Napoleon, is honored for excellence in family business. Solar Spectrum LLC is honored for excellence in startup innovation.

The companies will be inducted during a ceremony at 5:30 p.m. Nov. 8 at The Pinnacle, 1772 Indian Wood Circle, in Maumee. Tickets are $85. The Davenport-Longenecker Lifetime Achievement Award for Business Advocacy will be announced at the event.

The EBE HOF, presented by the University of Toledo, recognizes entrepreneurs who have built and sustained growing businesses and created jobs in the region as well as businesses that display technological innovation, said Adam Davenport, EBE HOF chairman and president of Gorillas & Gazelles, founding sponsor of the event.

“We’re really excited,” Davenport said. “We have a few construction companies, a restaurant supplier, solar once again through the University of Toledo, an automotive supplier, a security label manufacturer. There’s just a lot of diverse industries represented this year.”

Gary Frye, president and CEO of Riker Products, said, “We feel very, very honored to receive this award.”

Riker Products, which has been in business since the late 1940s and employs about 180 people, buys and bends tubing for use in heavy-duty exhaust systems and sells its products to trucking, mining and agricultural companies worldwide. Frye has been with the company for more than 40 years, starting as a laborer while still in high school and working his way to head of the company.

Mike Messmer, vice president and general manager of NovaVision, said the company is honored.

“One person could not do what we’re doing and the fact that we can grow is because we have such an excellent team,” Messmer said.

Founded in 1994, NovaVision has about 45 employees and specializes in technologies that provide anti-counterfeiting and anti-tampering features, including hologram labels, tamper-evident stickers, security tape, security seals and more. Its products are used worldwide, including by federal and state governments, military, airlines, ski resorts and collectibles dealers, Messmer said.

More than 700 people attended last year’s ceremony, Davenport said.

“It’s just a breath of fresh air to see that so many people will come out and support an event like this that showcases some of the inspiration stories and companies around this area,” Davenport said. “One thing we’re told is it’s an inspiration to many people out there that there are a lot of great things happening around here.”

Visit www.ebehof.com for more.

The Toledo Free Press, Sept. 23, 2012, Written by Sarah Ottney