SHOP TALK: Hunan House serves high-quality Asian food at a college student's budget
Hunan House has a mission to serve quality food made from fresh ingredients but recognizes their clientele of struggling college students need affordable options.
The restaurant has had several owners in its nearly 25 years in Mount Pleasant. Current owners, Carol Wang and her husband Jason Wang, moved to Mount Plesant so Carol could pursue a Master's degree from Central Michigan University. In 2008, Jason bought Hunan from his brother. The couple has been running the restaurant ever since.
The Wang family has centered their lives around running Hunan House. In the evenings Carol and Jason's children wait in the dining room as their parents close down the restaurant.
“I’ve never seen two people more hardworking and more committed in my entire life,” Hunan House employee Duane Ling said.
Hunan House, along with the neighboring plaza, burnt down seven years ago. Although no occupant or firefighter was injured in the blaze, there were 18 months where the Mount Pleasant community was unsure if Hunan was being rebuilt or reopened.
"It was a lot to go through, with the insurance and the landlords. It was a tough 18 months," Wang said.
Nevertheless, Hunan returned the following year in the exact same spot. Carol said that the restaurant had built a loyal customer base and there were no problems getting the clientele back after it had been rebuilt.
Hunan House also serves as a Mecca for student employment due to its casual work environment, understanding management and customer community. Plymouth junior Kate Amin considers her hostess position at Hunan to be the best out of all her previous restaurant jobs.
"I was a little worried to balance college life with a job when I first started," Amin said. "But it's so easy here because they really work with you and your schedule. If you need someone to cover because you need a night for homework, they are really good about that."
Hunan is also known for its "ask for a straw" policy that was created by former manager Anna Smith. In an effort to reduce plastic pollution, Hunan gives customers the option but doesn't automatically give them straws for their drinks.
"Our waitresses treat everyone like they're a regular and they're family. A college student can be very comfortable in our environment," Hunan House manager Jordan Heinrich said. "We have made it as simple as possible so everyone gets the best."
To place an order or to learn more about Hunan House, call (989) 772-7386 or browse its website.