After nearly four years, an old staple of Stone Road Mall’s food court has returned to Guelph in a new way.
ManchuWOK, an Asian cuisine establishment, has opened in Stonegate Plaza at 292 Stone Rd. W., the franchise’s first foray outside of a mall.
“I think the street front is obviously a sign that we’ve elevated our brand to a certain extent,” said Cole Swadron, the marketing manager for MTY Group, which owns the ManchuWOK brand.
“Not that the malls are going anywhere, we love the malls. But the street’s where we want to grow.”
The Stone Road Mall location was open for about 17 years, before closing in December 2019.
Plans began a couple years ago to branch outside of the mall setting, though those plans didn’t factor into the original Guelph location closing.
The new spot used to be occupied by Oma Fresh Foods and Craft Wines.
The company is also opening a franchise in Sault Ste. Marie, but decided Guelph was where they wanted to begin venturing with the new model.
“(Guelph is) a location that we know well, and have been to many of times,” Swadron said.
“It’s nice to be somewhere familiar.”
The menu features many of the options known in their mall food court days.
There are differences, including creations from the company’s culinary innovations and corporate chef, John Lee.
“The idea is to bring the best of all ManchuWOK to the street,” Lee said.
“That means we want this to kind of be an homage to the traditional ManchuWOK hot table, but also to really show the techniques that go into making our hot table, but at a fresh and ready to go, quick fired option.”
Shidan Guo, the Guelph franchise owner, used to work as a cook in home care and hospitals.
But she and her husband got interested in opening a ManchuWOK franchise, and decided to move from Saskatchewan to Guelph about a year ago.
“I really like it (here),” she said. “Especially my kids, they like the school, education here.”
Guo said the plan is to stay in Guelph long-term, and explore further ManchuWOK locations in nearby cities, including Kitchener, Waterloo and Cambridge.
ManchuWOK is open Sunday to Wednesday from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., 11 a.m. to midnight Thursday, and 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. on Friday and Saturday.