East side Asian food fans: Have you missed Asian Buffet since the stay-in-place order? Have you had to rely on frozen General Tso's chicken?
Your wait is over.
The popular — and acclaimed — Okemos cafeteria-style restaurant will reopen for both takeout and delivery services on Wednesday. Henry Kwok, whose family owns and operates the buffet, has "Henry's Place" next door.
Kwok said they plan to have Asian Buffet open by 11 a.m. Wednesday and remain open until at least 8 p.m., depending on customer traffic. Henry's Place, which is a more adult-oriented bar and grill, remains closed for the time being.
"We just really want to test the waters to see what the environment will be like before we set something in stone," he said.
The decision to reopen after a six-week hiatus does have some practical considerations behind it.
"We've been closed so long, there are still electric bills and rent bills we still need to pay," Kwok said. "A lot of our employees need the job, need the money. We need to start back out at least at half-operations to get things done, get bills paid, and get our employees back working again." The two restaurants have 16 to 20 employees between them.
"We hope most of our staff will come back," Kwok said, while recognizing the possibility some employees would be uneasy about returning to restaurant life because of the possibility of future similar shutdowns due to widespread illness.
Meanwhile, the plan for Asian Buffet is to start slowly with a takeout menu, something Kwok said the family-owned business hasn't done a great deal of before now.
"That's something we will have to adapt to and probably do more of in the future," he added.
Offering delivery is a new service for the restaurant. They plan to offer the service within a three to five-mile radius, which takes in much of East Lansing and Haslett. Keeping a tight circle, he added, also ensures orders arrive swiftly and hot.
Kwok said they plan to make deliveries with their own employees, rather than farming out the responsibility to one of the delivery superpowers.
"The Grubhubs and the DoorDashes, they take too much of the commission," Kwok said.
At least in the beginning, Kwok said they'll stick to Asian Buffet's existing takeout menu, which includes mainstays like crab rangoon and egg rolls to start and main dishes like sweet and sour chicken and chop suey. Family meals — a set menu of dishes in amounts to feed a couple or a crowd — could also be done, Kwok believes.
A lot of support is expected from regular customers who Kwok said have been keeping in touch via telephone and social media.
"Now that we have an exact date, I think people are getting more excited," he said.
4920 Marsh Rd, Okemos