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Second Wasabi planned in Ankeny; restaurant will anchor new strip retail center near Costco

Jay Wang
Jay Wang

Restaurateur Jay Wang, CEO of Wasabi Restaurant Group, is expanding his professional skills to include that of developer.

Wang owns five Wasabi restaurants in Central Iowa with plans to open two others in Urbandale and Ames, according to Wasabi’s website. In addition, plans are being made for a second Ankeny location on a site near Costco, a members-only big-box retailer that opened in November at 4000 N.E. Spectrum Drive.

36 Spectrum LLC, managed by Wang, paid Threshold Development LLC $1.75 million for about 3.5 acres of undeveloped land at 2120 N.E. 36th St. in Ankeny, Polk County real estate records show.

Wang told the Business Record that he plans on constructing a 12,000-square-foot retail building that will be anchored by Wasabi. This will be his first venture into property development, he said.

Wasabi ankeny north exterior
The rendering shows the exterior of the proposed strip retail center that Wasabi will anchor. Rendering by Simonson and Associates Architects.

“The Ankeny market has been great to Wasabi,” said Wang, a member of the Business Record’s 2022 Forty under 40 class. “The Costco area already has a lot of traffic. I think that’s where Ankeny’s future growth will be.”

The new Wasabi, which specializes in sushi, will anchor one end of the strip center and will include about 4,500 square feet of inside space and a 500-square-foot patio. The other end of the building will include a drive-thru. A tenant hasn’t yet been found but Wang said the space would be ideal for a coffee shop or fast-food restaurant. Other space exists for additional tenants, he said.

A construction timeline has not yet been finalized and is dependent on receiving various approvals from Ankeny officials for building and site plans.

Wang said he’s hopeful the new restaurant will be open by mid-2024.

Wang, who was born and raised in China, immigrated to the United States in 2001. He attended City University of New York, where he studied business management. While attending the university, he also worked in New York restaurants.

Wang opened his first Des Moines restaurant, Wasabi Chi, in 2011. In 2021, he opened Aura, a small-plates restaurant in Clive.


Kathy A. Bolten

Kathy A. Bolten is a senior staff writer at Business Record. She covers real estate & development, law & government and retail.

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