Wok Star: Drew Plank of CO Sushi
by Ashley Daniels
Drew Plank, general manager at CO Sushi, was raised in an environment that nurtured him for his eventual career in the food industry.
A native of Hanover, Pennsylvania (home of UTZ potato chips and Snyder pretzels), Drew had his first brush with hospitality at age 15 working in a bakery. From there, he became a server at Damon’s when he was old enough, and a bartender there when he turned twenty-one.
He worked his way up the ranks at Damon’s from an hourly manager to general manager. His location was made the training hub for the other seven franchise locations in the area, and Drew was in charge of the training program.
“Before moving here to the beach, my last position was as a traveling GM, going from location to location to help the franchises that were struggling,” he says.
Drew made his move to Myrtle Beach in 2014, wanting to get back behind the bar, and looking for a slower pace of life.
“Moving to a tourist area, I thought it might be nice to get out of management and work less hours with less stress,” he says.
So he applied at Co Sushi as a bartender. But, things don’t always go as planned. When Drew was interviewing with Co’s manager, the owner wanted to talk further. The manager was leaving at the end of the week and Drew’s resume matched up well with the systems and software Co had in place.
“I was reluctant to take the job at first,” he says. “I was trying to get out of management life. But I took the opportunity and I’m so glad I did. I love my job here and I learned that, although you may have the same job title as you did elsewhere, where you work and who you work for can change that outlook.”
Drew loves the “organized chaos” that his job entails.
“Each day is different,” he says. “I could wake up dressed for front of the house and end my day rolling sushi or cooking.”
Before working at Co, Drew admits that he never tried sushi or Asian cuisine.
“After I was offered the position, I ordered as much food as I could to try all the flavors that were so new to me,” he says. “I had five days with the GM to learn as much as I could. It was exciting to learn and experience a new cuisine. There were so many different terms and ingredients.”
Co Sushi prides itself on a menu that offers the freshest fish on the beach for their sushi chefs rather than bringing in frozen, pre-packaged fish. But sushi is only a portion of their menu; there’s also a diverse selection of Southeast Asian-inspired soups, wok dishes, and hibachi.
“We make all of the stocks for our soups, all of the sauces, and marinades from scratch,” says Drew. “We also order produce six days a week, ordering only what we need for that day, to keep our produce as fresh as possible.”
When Drew isn’t making sure things run smoothly in-house, he likes to spend time with his amazing boyfriend and his furbaby. He’s fostered four dogs, including two that showed up on his doorstep— a malnourished pitbull, and a pointer left behind in a hurricane.
“Outside of work, family is first,” says Drew. “My sister’s family, my mother and grandmother have all migrated to Myrtle Beach, too. I’ll visit my sister and her kids or take my grandma out to bingo on Wednesdays on my day off.”
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