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More Japanese steakhouses opening

Two new Springfield restaurants expect to open soon on Bechtle Avenue.

Japanese steakhouses have cropped up around the city in the last few years, and the latest, Sakura Japanese Steakhouse and Sushi, is currently under construction on the North Bechtle Avenue corridor.

Sakura will open in the former Golden Bowl location at 1781 N. Bechtle Ave. in March, said owner Timmy Wang.

Wang said he started remodeling the building in December, and he has already stripped a lot of the building.

“We will have 10 tables and a steakhouse restaurant chef will cook in front of you with the chefs doing shows,” Wang said. “We also have a full sushi bar and a whole liquor bar, and a dining area for people who want some privacy.”

Wang said this is one of several Sakura restaurants owned by his family in Ohio.

Springfield “looks like a pretty good market to have (a Japanese steakhouse),” Wang said. “They are popular around the Dayton and Columbus area, and Springfield is in the middle.”

Sake Japanese Steakhouse and Sushi Bar, part of a Dayton-area chain, is in the works at 1985 N. Bechtle Ave., according to a city building report. Officials from Sake have been unavailable for comment.

Asian and fusion cuisine have been popular for years, according to Ohio Restaurant Association reports. Right now, the emphasis is on South Asian cuisine such as Thai and Vietnamese, said Jarrod Clabaugh , ORA spokesman.

But Japanese steakhouses allow diners to be more in touch with the meal.

“Customers want to be more in touch with their meal. They want to be a part of the experience,” Clabaugh said.”Everyone has their own favorite cooking show, and (Japanese steakhouses) allow you to feel like you’re a part of that experience more than a traditional back of the house restaurant.”

Clabaugh said people are also looking to try new flavors in food and explore new tastes. Several years ago the “hot” foods were Mexican and Asian, and a desire for ethnic food still exists, he added.

Additionally, there has been general growth in the restaurant industry as the economy improves.

“Improvement in the market meant some restaurants didn’t make it, so now there’s a lot of pent-up demand in the industry to go and take over existing restaurant space,” Clabaugh said.

In Springfield, closed restaurants are filled very quickly. Rooster’s, Bada Bing Pizzeria, Sakura and Moose’s Middle Eastern Deli have all opened in the last year in former restaurant spots.

“We are seeing growth, although there was some pull back at the end of last year,” Clabaugh said.

He cited concerns about the fiscal cliff and discretionary spending to save for the holidays as a reason.

“We’re seeing restaurants are adding to their staff,” Clabaugh said. “We expect the trend to continue through 2013. Our members are cautiously optimistic, and they are worried about health care.”

Wang said if all goes well with construction, he will be hiring for Sakura’s opening in March.

“Up to this point we’re probably planning on hiring around 10 to 15 people,” Wang said. “If everything goes well, we’ll hire in another 2 weeks.”

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