Nara Japanese Restaurant in the Redmond Town Square has been serving up food since 1989, but come Oct. 31, the eatery will be calling it quits and closing up shop.
Angie Wang Chen started the restaurant with her husband. Now her daughter, Jessica Chen, works there too and is an owner.
Chen said they were only told earlier this year that the town square had been bought by a developer, and didn’t have enough time to find an alternate location.
“If we found one, we would probably have to do some construction work on it,” to hold their equipment, she said.
Juggling two rents, remodeling, living costs and time restraints running their current location proved to be too daunting a prospect, so the restaurant will be shutting down.
Chen said her mother plans on retiring, and she plans on traveling.
“I think we’ve just pushed up our plans,” she said.
Wang Chen said she remembered Redmond when the large Redmond Town Center development across the street was just an empty field.
Since 1989, the once small town has rapidly increased to a major international technology hub.
With that, Chen said she felt there was less of a place for businesses like her family’s.
“I feel like we’re getting pushed out, that small businesses are getting pushed out,” Chen said.
While she said once work on the downtown core is completed, there may be more options for local businesses, it’s too late for Nara.
Once they close, they will spend the following weeks cleaning and selling off equipment.
If customers have any claimed sake boxes that are decorated and sit on the wall behind the counter, Chen said customers should talk with them to retrieve them.
Wang Chen also thanked customers for decades of business.
“Lots of customers like a family,” she said.
Chen told the Reporter in previous coverage that they had not received a lease renewal offer they could accept from the new owners and current managers.
The property was purchased by the San Francisco company Legacy Partners in conjunction with a Chinese investment firm last year for $31 million. Legacy representatives did not return a Reporter phone call at press time.
In a previous Reporter article, Legacy’s Parker Nicholson said the project on the site will have between 30,000 and 50,000 square feet of retail space and the businesses currently located at Redmond Square will have the option to lease space in the new development once construction is complete if they choose to.
“We’re not trying to shut them out,” he said, adding that some may choose to stay, others will not.
Other business owners in the town square, including of the Noodle Land Restaurant next door, said they were also looking at other options.
Small business owners have said in the past that a lack of affordable real estate is a key hurdle for their continuing operation in the city.