There's never a good time for a well-established restaurant to catch on fire, but this incident was an especially hard hit for the Hazel Ave. location of Mikuni Japanese Restaurant & Sushi Bar. An early morning fire in late-December caused extensive smoke and water damage to the popular restaurant, with an estimated four months of closure while the restaurant was repaired. The fire started in the restaurant's HVAC system, causing $50,000 worth of damage.
"It was right before the rush of New Year's Eve, which is our best sales of the year," said Taro Arai, Mikuni's co-founder and executive chef. "That was a disaster. We had to call 200 people to cancel their reservations."
The upside is that Mikuni's repairs were finished ahead of schedule, and the restaurant re-opened today at 11:30 a.m. for lunch. The renovations didn't add many new changes at this Mikuni location, which opened in 1987 and has undergone four previous remodels. Customers, however, will find some brighter color schemes in the interior.
Arai said this Mikuni location may add a Sunday lunch service soon, but essentially all will remain the same.
"Everything is back to normal," said Arai, who's recently been sporting dyed pink hair. "I was getting e-mails everyday asking when we'd be open. From beginning to end (the re-model) took 45 days, which is unheard of. We took advantage of the changes to bring some of my colors into the restaurant. Some people might not like it, but it's a new era and we want to move forward."
FROM THE BEE: