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New restaurant opens in Midland just hours before COVID-19 restrictions took effect

The restaurant located on Ashman Street is called Aster Michigan. It is owned by Evan Sumrell and his wife.
Published: Nov. 18, 2020 at 2:55 PM EST
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MIDLAND, Mich. (WJRT) - Just hours before new COVID-19 restrictions went into effect, a new restaurant officially opened in downtown Midland. And even though it opened during the COVID-19 pandemic, its owner says that the time was right and he hopes to make the best of it.

The restaurant, located on Ashman Street, is called Aster Michigan. It is owned by Evan Sumrell and his wife.

“It’s all I know," Sumrell said. "I love to cook food. I’ve been cooking food since I was a kid. This is everything I’ve done.”

Sumrell said that even with the COVID-19 pandemic going on, he still wanted to fulfill his dream.

“This was something I’ve always wanted in my life,” he said. "This is a huge dream of mine.”

The journey to open the restaurant began several months ago. Sumrell said that his family moved to Midland over the summer after he was furloughed from his job in Chicago. His wife is from the Midland area and they didn’t really think about opening a restaurant in Midland initially.

“We were looking at property and different places and this, this kind of just fell on our lap," Sumrell said. "We weren’t planning on opening a restaurant in Midland, it just kind of happened.”

The restaurant sits in the city’s downtown. Months of work went on to get the inside ready for opening day. Sumrell said that he and his wife did a lot of work themselves but also used local resources to put in the finishing touches.

With the pandemic ongoing and new COVID-19 restrictions in place, the restaurant opened for takeout only on Tuesday.

Sumrell said that while it is a difficult time for restaurants in general, he knew this was the right time to open up and that opening this restaurant is serving a larger purpose.

“That’s a huge thing," he said. "It’s to create and to provide something that’s bigger than you. And, and for this, this is the reason why decided to just still do this. You know, it is a crazy time but six months ago we didn’t know what gonna happen either and obviously this is still gonna keep going and so we just have to kind of roll with the punches and go from there.”

The restaurant will use a farm-to-table concept and will use a ton of local resources to bring food to its customers.

Sumrell said that he hopes the three-week restrictions go by fast so that the restaurant can fully open.

“It’s a little speed bump and we’re just gonna cross it and then, you know, hopefully this three weeks definitely helps with everyone being safe and healthy and we can move from there and then open finally to the public fully," Sumrell said.

Takeout is available and the restaurant’s menu can be found on its website.

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