Two months after Japanese fusion restaurant Raku closed on Higuera Street because of high rent and low public interest, a new Japanese restaurant is set to take its place in downtown San Luis Obispo.
Naked Fish, a sushi restaurant based for 15 years in South Lake Tahoe, will open a 2,300-square-foot location at the former Raku spot sometime within two to three weeks, owner Karen Staeheli said.
Staeheli, a 10-year resident of Morro Bay, said she didn’t consider opening a new Naked Fish in San Luis Obispo until Raku went out of business in January, and left vacant a spot that was already set up for serving sushi, she said.
Staeheli said though she is paying around the same rent that former Raku owner Tony Park paid for the space — Park told The Tribune in June he was paying roughly $2.22 per square foot — she does not think that rent will play a part in her business’ success.
“Regardless of the rent, we’re in a great area,” Staeheli said. “I’m not worried about whether it is going to work or not. We’re going to do our absolute best for our customers and workers, and what’s best for the community.”
Staeheli declined to disclose how much she invested in the new restaurant, saying that she “would rather keep numbers out of it.” The new restaurant will have approximately 70 seats and include a lounge area and large 18-seat sushi bar. It will serve lunch and dinner and stay open until about 11 p.m., Staeheli said.
The menu will use mostly local produce and fish, as well as some local wines, for a “cleaner and lighter” fare than what they serve in South Lake Tahoe, Executive Chef Joe Richardson said. He said it will also be a slightly different take on traditional sushi.
“I want to keep Japanese food going in a very modern way — keep the very traditional stuff that should stay traditional, and then really branch out and really keep it modern with new techniques,” he said.
Though the new restaurant doesn’t have an official opening date, Staeheli said she is hoping to begin training the 20-person staff this week and opening next week.