A downtown Napa restaurant that has been closed for more than a year is slated to reopen as a Japanese eatery, adding yet another dining option to the flourishing “West End” district.
The defunct Piccolino’s space on First Street near Franklin is being remodeled to become a Japanese restaurant called Eiko's.
If the name sounds familiar, it should: Many Napans and tourists know executive chef Eiko Nakamura from her restaurant in the , where it has been serving customers for more than 20 years.
“We eat out a lot. But Fujiya on the west side of Highway 29 closes at 8 p.m. It was (out of touch) with the downtown Napa restaurant scene,” said Rick Zaslove, who is opening the new restaurant with his brother Mike.
The Zaslove name is more commonly associated with , which is based in Napa. But Rick Zaslove said he and his brother have always kicked around the idea of opening a restaurant.
Nakamura will shift over to her namesake restaurant when it opens later this year.
Rick Zaslove said no decision has been made to keep open or close Fujiya.
Eiko's will have a full bar and more of a lounging atmosphere with a fireplace. There will also be a sports bar, Zaslove said.
The Japanese-themed restaurant will feature a clean interior with the hip, modern, upscale feel someone would expect to find in a cosmopolitan city, according to Zaslove.
He said they expect to hire 25-30 employees part and full time and open sometime in the spring, with menu prices likely to range between $8 and $18.
With about 4,050 square feet, Eiko's could seat some 120 diners.
Downtown merchants are hoping the new eatery will result in more foot traffic and more sales at their registers.
Craig Smith, executive director of the Napa Downtown Association, sees the new Japanese restaurant/sports bar as a positive for the city’s newest tony “West End” district.
“We are very happy. This is a new concept for Napa and for them to be at this end of town (is great),” Smith said.
Facing the soon-to-open Japanese eatery is . Owner Renee Fannin, said she is pleased to see a new business neighbor.
“I am thrilled it is coming and for anyone else that is opening a new business,” Fannin said.