Two Cincinnati Bengals players are getting involved in a unique and surprising venture, for football players.
AJ McCarron is partnering with restaurateur Pete Zimmer to open a sushi restaurant and Michael Johnson is investing in the restaurant called Ajian Sushi. Zimmer has 30 years of restaurant experience, whereas McCarron, his co-owner has very little if any experience in opening a restaurant. The restaurant is set to open in Tuscaloosa, Alabama on June 1 and will be a build-your-own sushi bar with some interesting offerings. Menu items will include the flamin’ hot Cheeto roll, a peanut butter and jelly roll and the banana and Nutella roll, according to The Crimson White.
“You walk into our fast-casual atmosphere and you’ll design your own roll every time,” Pete Zimmer, co-owner and main operator of Ajian Sushi told The Crimson White. “At the hit of a button we’ll have white or brown rice, and from there you’ll pick your proteins, vegetables, toppings and sauces for close to $8 a roll.”
Zimmer's son attends University of Alabama and upon a visit to his son, Zimmer became interested in starting a build-your-own sushi restaurant in Tuscaloosa. A run-in with Johnson helped spark the initiation of the restaurant. Per The Crimson White:
“I ran into Michael while I was in Cincinnati, and he was really enthusiastic about my idea for the restaurant,” Zimmer said. “So I asked if he thought AJ might be interested in co-owning the place with me, and he went on to mention it to AJ at practice. The next day I had a text from AJ that said ‘I’m in, let’s do this.’”
Johnson has since become an investor in the restaurant, alongside one of Zimmer’s close friends and restaurant partner, Carol Ryan.
“We met at a Bengal’s game quite a few years ago and we’ve been great friends ever since,” Ryan said. “My husband and I could tell how passionate he was about the idea, so as soon as he was ready we agreed to invest in the restaurant.”
Construction is currently underway for the first Ajian Sushi restaurant, but Zimmer is hoping to open 10+ Ajian sushi restaurants in the state of Alabama.
Zimmer, a Cincinnati resident, will be moving to Alabama to get the venture started.
“We’re excited and we’re all in,” Zimmer said. “It’s a big move for my family and me but we’ve decided to pick up and make Alabama our home as we have the support of AJ, his wife and Michael. At the end of the day I just trust in the Lord. Everything fell into place at exactly the right time so we believe it’s definitely the right move for us.”
Who’s taking a road trip to Alabama for some sushi?