A new Japanese restaurant is now slinging sushi out of a former downtown diner.
Nami opened earlier this month at 218 E. Main St., taking over the spot that was formerly occupied by the longtime 3rd Street Diner.
The restaurant is owned by Tao Chen and managed by his girlfriend, Song Li. They both have experience in the restaurant industry, but this is their first foray running their own operation.
“We want to try something for ourselves,” Li said, adding she most recently worked as a manager for Sushi King.
Li said they were drawn to the location for its potential to capture the lunchtime office crowd.
“We really liked this location because it’s in downtown and we’re nearby the offices,” Li said.
Nami’s regular sushi rolls run $4.25 to $8.25, while the eight-piece chef special rolls are priced about $13 to $16. Hibachi entrees run about $15 to $28. Bento box and hibachi lunches are priced about $12 to $16.
The restaurant is open for lunch and dinner and has seating for 80 people.
Li said between $15,400 and $18,400 was invested into the space. The restaurant has four workers, including them.
Nami’s opening comes about a year after the old diner building was purchased by Ya Hau Zheng and Jianwei Tang. They bought the roughly 4,000-square-foot property from an LLC tied to William Pyliaris for $550,000 in a deal that was recorded with the city in late April 2021. Pyliaris was the previous owner of 3rd Street Diner.
Li said the current landlords are her friends who had originally wanted to run a restaurant of their own in the space. When those plans fell through, she and Chen stepped forward to open their own eatery there.
On the same block, longtime food truck Grilled Meats & Treats is planning a brick-and-mortar location at 200 E. Main St. The owner was unavailable for comment last week. The company’s Instagram page said the restaurant is aiming for a June opening date.