By Kris Leonhardt
MARSHFIELD — Nagoya Japanese Sushi & Steak House is one of the latest additions to the strip mall anchored by Festival Foods. The restaurant is owned by Summer Liu and her husband, Louis Gao, who immigrated to America in the hopes of creating roots.
“Nagoya is a Japanese city’s name,” explained Liu. “Most of the restaurants are called Tokyo because Tokyo is the biggest city in Japan. Nagoya is also a big city, just not more famous than Tokyo.”
Liu and Gao first found employment in Stevens Point before making the step into restaurant ownership.
“I heard that the (previous Marshfield) restaurant was going to be sold,” said Liu. “Before that I worked in Tokyo Steak House in Stevens Point,” where Gao also worked. The two were high school classmates and then began dating while they obtained their postsecondary education.
“We just came to America together,” Liu said. “We’ve been here six or seven years.”
“Most Asian people that come to America, they just work at a restaurant,” added Liu. “We just started to work at a restaurant and tried to learn the skills that someday we could own our own business. We don’t want to work for someone else forever.”
The couple has a 2-year-old son, Ryan, back in China, whom they hope to bring to America soon. Ryan lives in northeast China with Gao’s parents.
Liu and Gao made the difficult decision when Ryan was 4 months old to send him to China until they could gain a foothold in America. They are not able to travel back to China very often, so they communicate with Ryan as much as possible through FaceTime.
“It is hard, but you know, for the first generation of the immigration, it is just like this,” Liu said.
“We’ll see if the business is good. Then we can settle down here and have the baby come back here,” explained Liu. “We are just trying to settle down in a place and then take him back when it is time to go to school.”
Nagoya, located at 1637 N. Central Ave., specializes in authentic Japanese food, such as sushi, hibachi, tempura, and teriyaki.