Born in Bulgaria, Ivan Manoylov and his parents moved to the United States when he was 4 years old. He primarily grew up in East Lancing, Mich. while his mother was obtaining her PhD at Michigan State University. By the time Ivan was in high school, his family was on the move again. This time, they found themselves in Milledgeville, Ga., where his mother had just gotten a job as a professor of biology at Georgia College. He graduated from Baldwin High School and eventually went on to attend Georgia College. 

During his time at Georgia College, he worked at The Brick in Milledgeville, where he said he got his introduction into the restaurant industry. For four years at The Brick, Manoylov worked his way up to being the bar manager there and stayed in that position for about a year. Even then, he had bigger dreams in mind for his future. 

“I’m a big foodie, so I always had goals of owning a restaurant at some point in my life,” Manoylov said. 

After some time away from Milledgeville, he took a leap of faith when an opportunity to own his own restaurant presented itself. Manoylov and his fiancé, Shelby Giddens, moved back to Milledgeville from the Atlanta area after agreeing to purchase Kuroshima restaurant, located at 140 W. Hancock St. from the previous owners. Manoylov took the business over in September and has been running it as is, while he also prepares a bit of a rebrand. Said rebrand began with the changing of the business’s name to SHIMA In Milly, and the creation of a new logo. He said he’s currently working on tweaking the menu. He added he’s grateful to the Parkses, the previous owners, for their time running the business and helping him bring the business into a new era. He hopes to honor their legacy. 

“They obviously had a proven track record for Japanese food and sushi. I’m trying to let that legacy live on and trying to modernize it a little bit, update it,” Manoylov said. 

He explained that the Parkses trained with him to learn the recipes and techniques they used for their menu items and even learned from Mrs. Parks how to make the sushi. He said that all parties involved wanted to ensure that the quality of the food wouldn’t drop off after the ownership change. 

Among the items that customers will be glad to know is staying on the menu are the Bento Boxes, which feature a side of fried rice, a side of vegetables, a protein of choice (chicken, steak, or shrimp), three dumplings, and four pieces of California roll. Though it should be noted that these popular boxes are only served during lunch (11 a.m. to 4 p.m.) and only on weekdays. Manoylov is also preparing different daily specials, such as a Spicy Tuna Crisp, which features the restaurant’s spicy tuna paste placed on a wonton crisp, and then topped with pickled onions, and truffle oil. There will also be events, such as their Sushi Nights on Tuesdays from 5 p.m. until 9 p.m. which will feature a condensed menu with half-off sushi. 

Although still in the process of making some cosmetic changes, Manoylov described the atmosphere at SHIMA In Milly as laid back. He’s currently working on putting some televisions and a sound system inside the restaurant as well. As for why customers should visit SHIMA In Milly over other restaurants in the area, for Manoylov, it is the quality of the food that makes the difference. Specifically, he referenced the fried rice, which some customers have called the best in town, and the Yum Yum and teriyaki sauces, both of which are made in house. The Yum Yum sauce recipe was passed down to Manoylov and was a staple at Kuroshima.

“One thing I do is I try to go to every table and get their feedback on how everything is and if there’s anything else we can do to make their experience at SHIMA better,” said Manoylov of the experience thus far. “I get the enjoyment out of seeing people happy and full. I definitely think we’ve done a great job with that and will continue to do that.”

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