While the closure of Ototo Sushi has been rumored this past week, owner Takashi Ogawa, who has operated the popular sushi restaurant on the hill for 10 years, confirmed today that the restaurant is closing and its last day will be Saturday, Dec. 31. And landlord Sue Wanwig has confirmed that fellow tenant Enza, newly named Polpetta, will also shut down at the end of the year.
In an already turbulent industry, Ogawa’s restaurant was further hit by the recession and, despite a loyal following of neighborhood customers, could no longer stay operational. Ogawa was paying $5,000 a month in rent and had been in lease negotations with Wandig to temporarily decrease the rent. The idea was considered but nothing came of it. Ogawa said by Dec. 1, he was a month late on rent and received a letter from Wanwig saying as much. The letter further requested he vacate by the end of December.
Ogawa has 10 employees. One, named Hutch, an experienced sushi maker, will pursue options elsewhere as Ogawa will not reopen in a new location.
The popular brick building at the southeast corner of West Boston Street and Queen Anne Avenue North has been in Wanwig’s family for decades. Wanwig has space for six tenants. Ground floor tenants included Ototo Sushi, The Teacup, Museum Quality Framing and Polpetta. The framing shop which is a chain in this region will stay, Wanwig said. Polpetta though, has been given notice to vacate by Saturday, too. The Teacup owner Elisabeth Knottingham had been negotiating her lease with Wanwig but to no avail. She too has employed as many as 10 and the tea shop will vacate by Dec. 31. Knottingham said she will sell tea online and might do some writing.
The timing of three stores closing their doors on the same day is coincidental and likely the result of the bad economy, Wanwig said. “We tried to keep them in as long as possible,” she said. “I’m not sure why everyone reached their breaking point at the same time.”
Wanwig has not listed the space and has no tenants set. But as the building is on a grade, there can be no consolidation of space. She said there are no plans for a large, single tenant to move in. She said she is willing to consider any tenant so long as the business isn’t a detraction to the neighborhood.