Japanese cuisine with what has been described as a tapas flair is expected soon in downtown San Luis Obispo.
Restaurant owner Tony Yoshida Park plans to open Raku this fall in the Higuera Street space formerly occupied by Muzio’s deli, which closed in April.
Park has been in the restaurant business for 12 years and worked as a sushi chef for about 10 years. He moved to the Central Coast from Los Angeles more than three years ago, opening a Raku restaurant on West Grand Avenue in Grover Beach.
He is in the process of selling the Grover Beach business to focus solely on the operations of the proposed San Luis Obispo location.
“I always wanted to come to San Luis Obispo, but I had been waiting for a couple of years,” said Park, an Arroyo Grande resident. “Then, the place came up, and so I thought it was a good opportunity.”
With a variety of Japanese restaurants in San Luis Obispo County, Park acknowledged that he has competition.
However, he said that the tapas-style food, which is designed for diners to share, would set his restaurant apart from others.
As well, the Japanese cuisine will combine other flavors, including French cuisine, he said. His chef, Joe Shiihara, has experience with such cuisine and has worked for nearly 30 years as a chef in Japan, Australia, New Zealand and Southern California.
Park noted that he is making renovations to the space to accommodate a sushi bar and a bar to serve Yakitori, Japanese-style chicken skewers.
“There will be an open fire grill, so we’ll be able to cook right in front of the customers with a special blackened oak charcoal,” Park said.
Park plans to hire about 20 to 30 people and expects to open Sept. 1.