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Asian street food concept coming to downtown space

J. Elias O'Neal March 8, 2017 2

Yaki is moving into the space at 506 W. Broad St., which previously was occupied by Boka Tavern. (Kieran McQuilkin)

Yaki is moving into the space at 506 W. Broad St., which previously was occupied by Boka Tavern. (Kieran McQuilkin)

A former Jackson Ward taco spot is turning Japanese.

Richmond-based Rogue Restaurant Group plans to open a Japanese pub and street food concept, Yaki, at 506 W. Broad St. in the space previously occupied by Boka Tavern, which closed this year.

Rogue Restaurant Group owns and operates The Rogue Gentlemen at 618 N. First St. Chef and managing partner Johnny Maher said Yaki will be the group’s take on the modern Japanese pub dining style known as “izakaya” and Japanese street food, or “yakitori.”

“I’ve wanted to do my take of a izakaya for years,” said Maher, who visited similar venues in Tokyo and San Francisco. “When I was approached by the landlord to move into this space, I figured now was the time to move forward with this particular concept.”

Rogue Restaurant Group signed a lease for the 1,710-square-foot space in mid-February, Maher said. Nathan Hughes, founder and principal broker of Richmond-based Sperity Real Estate Ventures, represented the landlord in the transaction.

The group aims to open the new restaurant by the first week of May, Maher said. He would not disclose the price of upfitting the space.

Previous concepts in the storefront have struggled in recent years. Prior to Boka Tavern, owner Patrick Harris had started in the long-vacant space with Antler & Fin, a concept he switched after six weeks.

Harris has moved the Boka brand’s delivery operations to Boka Tako Bar in the Fan. Boka’s catering and event services were consolidated into Boka Grill in the Forest Hill neighborhood.

Maher said he plans to hire six to eight people to staff Yaki, which will operate from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. Monday through Saturday.

Maher said the space and concept will be “the exact opposite” of Rogue Gentlemen, with bright interior colors and lower prices. Less will be more when it comes to Yaki’s menu, Maher said, with a focus on yakitori – skewers of grilled chicken.

The menu also will include vegetable skewers with mushrooms and asparagus, Maher said. Yaki will serve cocktails with the help of Shaun Loughran, a Rogue Gentlemen bartender who will move to tend Yaki’s bar full time.

Maher said he hasn’t determined whether sake, typically served at izakayas, would be available at Yaki.

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2 Comments »

  1. George Myers March 8, 2017 at 12:01 pm - Reply

    One problem with your story: The north side of Broad Street in Downtown is not part of Jackson Ward.
    It is not part of the historic Jackson Ward. It is simply Downtown.
    Why do you have to keep getting this wrong? Jackson Ward starts at Marshall Street.
    It just diminishes the stories you do when you can’t figure out what neighborhood you are talking about.

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