When Sake 2 Me opened in downtown Hays approximately five and a half years ago, Mike Huskey, hoped it would be well-received.
“I thought there was a small market for it,” the owner said. “I did it because I felt the small market would be enough to make it run.”
However, it soon was clear the market was bigger than what he originally thought.
“For the first six months, we had lines out the door,” Huskey said. “It was actually insane.”
Huskey said he wasn’t expecting that. In the beginning, it was just him rolling sushi — a craft he taught himself.
“It wasn’t exactly a matter of nobody else is doing it, so I’m going to do it,” Huskey said. “It was just I had to leave town if I wanted to eat at a sushi place, so that was kind of what motivated me also.”
His other interest, coffee, led to the opening of his next business venture, Union Station Coffee & Roasterie, approximately two years ago.
“Coffee, just like seafood, is my passion. And at that time, there was only one other coffee shop in town,” Huskey said. “Again, it was something I wanted myself, so I figured why not make a small business out of it.”
They focused on manual brewing techniques, nitro-infused coffee and things nobody else was doing.
Huskey said at the original Union Station location, they actually were bigger and busier than they ever wanted to be.
“We were doing wholesale, so we had commercial accounts,” Huskey said. “It just got to be more than we wanted. I didn’t want to be stuck behind a desk all day.”
That led to the decision to move out of their two original locations and merge the businesses in one building — Sake 2 Me Sushi & Seafood Grille and the Brew Bar — which are located at the former Hays City Quality Meats, 2306 Vine.
“I decided to call it the Brew Bar because I made it into a bar, so you can literally belly up to the bar to get your coffee,” Huskey said.
The new location for Sake 2 Me has a kitchen that is nearly three times the size of the old one, which allows Huskey to explore more of what he truly loves — seafood.
“I wanted to do more seafood,” Huskey said. “We did mussels and oysters one night for Valentine’s Day two years ago, and we got awesome reviews over that. … We’re known for our sushi rolls, so it was really important for me to do the sushi and seafood.”
With the addition of more seafood and a cocktail bar, Huskey hired an executive chef, a bar manager and more employees to make it happen.
“We really wanted to keep the bar more of a local thing,” Huskey said. “So we serve all but one of the Kansas craft beers from small breweries.”
Other new additions to the Sake 2 Me menu include burgers, steaks, oysters, mussels and clams, along with many specialty seafood dishes and, of course, their classic sushi rolls.
For Huskey, the goal always has been to have quality ingredients.
“I wanted a restaurant where people could eat real seafood,” Huskey said. “So we get a lot of stuff in that is fresh — a lot of fresh seafood and even live seafood like our oysters.”
Huskey said they get their seafood from all over the country.
“I have a place out of Chicago, Hawaii, San Diego, Dallas and Massachusetts,” Huskey said.
One of his favorite things to do is change people’s minds about seafood.
“Literally, my job is to take someone that doesn’t like seafood and turn them into a seafood lover,” Huskey said. “That happens several times a week.”
The Brew Bar hours are 7 a.m. to noon, and Sake 2 Me Sushi & Seafood Grille is open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday.