MAITLAND, Fla. – A Mount Dora restaurant with a huge social media following is getting ready to open a second location, this time setting up shop in Maitland.
The city of Maitland announced on social media Wednesday WAVE Asian Bistro & Sushi would be opening up in a former one-story bank building at 360 E. Horatio Ave.
“The Maitland area just kind of made sense after shopping around at a few different places and the opportunity fell into our lap and we capitalized on it,” said Jonathan McKinney, the owner of WAVE.
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The city said WAVE would occupy a 1,400-square-foot space in the building with an outdoor patio. Other businesses moving into he area will include Vitality Bowls Superfood Cafe, Foxtail Coffee Co. and Urban Body Works, according to the social media post.
McKinney said he hopes to have the Maitland location opened by the end of next summer.
The Lake County native first opened WAVE in April 2017.
“I’ve been working in the restaurant for a long time,” he said. “Growing up, it was just on the weekend — we didn’t have a babysitter — I would just have to kind of tag along the restaurant on the weekends and when I would get bored, I would just start to learn different things and over the years, I started putting that to use.”
McKinney said his father worked in several Kobe Steakhouses and eventually opened three of his own hibachi restaurants.
“That’s where I started getting more involved because that’s where I kind of grew up,” he said. “I worked in restaurants for 15-20 years and got all the knowledge that I needed.”
WAVE sets itself apart from other sushi restaurants with its innovative menu items.
“We take traditional sushi and kind of push that envelope a little bit and make it a little bit more fun to eat,” McKinney said. “So you’ll see sushi in the shape of you know, like a sushi hot dog, sushi hamburger, crunch wrap and things of that nature.”
McKinney said the sushi hot dog is one of their top sellers.
“That sushi hot dog is definitely one of my favorites as well. It’s a fan favorite out there,” he said.
The wild designs of WAVE’s sushi have garnered it significant following on social media, racking up millions of views on Instagram and TikTok.
“We have an in-house (social media) team,” McKinney said. “It’s just myself, Kelly — my girlfriend who has been running our social media the entire time we’ve been open — and we work directly with our staff and one of my lead cooks. We’ve worked with her directly with some of the more creative things like the baby Yoda sushi, the Santa of sushi.”
While the creative sushi designs have garnered a lot of attention for WAVE, McKinney said the business has also received a pushback from traditionalists.
“We do and I feel like that almost pushes us to be even more creative to see how much further we can push that envelope. How much further we can take an idea and I think that’s the fun in it,” he said.
Now, McKinney is eager to expose a new population to what WAVE has to offer.
“The concept of WAVE has just been a really fun project to work on overall and (it has) kind of always been a dream of mine to spread that out as much as I can,” he said.
The new restaurant is smaller than the Mount Dora location, but the owner said people will still be able to get their favorites there.
“We’re still going to be creative. We’re still pushing that boundary and seeing how far we can take it. So definitely look for some new items that may be exclusive to Maitland,” McKinney said. “There will be slight differences between the two but you can definitely still expect to get like your favorite things over at the Maitland location.”