The former AMOT Eatery space in the Fatherland District is lit up once again: Maru Sushi & Grill opened Monday at 1100 Fatherland St., Ste. 101, serving sushi, teriyaki dishes and a mix of favorites from owners Rita and Harry Lee’s native Korea, like Bulgogi and Bibimbap.
Sushi-side, you’ll find the gamut of fan favorites like spicy tuna and spider rolls, alongside Maru specialties, like a shrimp, eel and crab-stocked sushi burrito and a Nashville-restaurant-scene-appropriate Baja Fresh roll, with yellowtail, jalapeño, cilantro and avocado.
The new eatery is an all-around family affair, with Rita Lee at the front of house, and Harry and Rita’s brother, MK, in the kitchen. All three have years of Nashville restaurant experience (if you’re a longtime Samurai Sushi patron, you likely experienced former head chef Harry Lee’s gifts there), though East Nashville is a new frontier for the Brentwood-based family.
They just happened to come across the Fatherland space — still fresh, bright and new after AMOT’s nearly three-year stay — and felt smitten.
“It was so great,” Rita Lee says. “Me and my husband, we said, ‘We have to have this place.'”
The ramp-up was a quick one — the Lees closed on the restaurant in February, added the few things they needed to accommodate their cuisine and got the Maru banner up on the door for their March opening.
The early response was similarly quick, and surprising.
“I don’t know how people knew,” Lee says, marveling at their second-night dinner service, and motioning across the sunny space. “From here to there, the bar, full.”
That East Nashville energy gave Rita a challenge — the part-time nurse and mother of two started as the sole, Maru ramp-up-season server, and she worried about providing the nimble service they’re aiming for as they work to hire more staff. But a room full of empty plates made for a happy beginning.
“I told my husband, ‘I’m so happy to have this place,’” Rita Lee says. “…I just want to make (our customers) happy — make them happy, give them good memories. That’s our goal.“
Maru Sushi & Grill is open now 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 4:30 to 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday. For more, visit Maru on Facebook.