Support us with Kachingle!
April 19, 2012 | 12:00 a.m. CST
A historic building looms on Tenth Street. Its dark layers of brick contrast with the stark white banner stretched across the front. “Sake, coming soon! Under new management.”
Inside, the room smells of paint and potential instead of musty, 100-year-old building. The walls are a soothing gray, and three white chandeliers resembling artichokes hang across the ceiling. A jet-black sushi bar dominates the back left corner of the space with three stations to watch the creations come to life. Although the soft reopening in early May has taken almost nine months longer than first planned, the new design and menu changes of Sake prove time is of no consequence.
As the sign hints, the new management and planners of the remodel are co-owners Jesse Francisco, 27, and Colin Murphey, 35, who were former staff at the old bistro. Previous owner Robert Chen became overwhelmed by family commitments and decided to shut down Sake. Murphey and Francisco had other plans.
“We didn’t think it was time for Sake to be over,” Francisco says. “It had a huge following in Columbia, and we had first-hand knowledge of how to make it better.”
New executive chef Aaron View, 34, says the goal of the menu is to satisfy the old following but also serve dishes such as filets and burgers to please more people. Favorites including the crab, mussel and shrimp Tiger Roll, spicy tuna Mizzou Roll and crab, cream cheese and avocado Big O Roll will stay.
Construction started one month after closing last May. Local businessman and nine-year Sake patron Mike Monahan, his wife Amy, Murphey and Francisco bought the Sake name and restaurant. The partners planned to open the restaurant by football season in August, but a quick assessment of damage done by water and years of improper repairs soon shot that down.
“There were at least five places where the holes were so large you could actually see daylight,” Francisco says about the widespread damage in the kitchen, sides and roof of the building.
The cracking and leaking roof needed to be replaced. Various professional teams expanded the kitchen workspace, reinstalled electric and plumbing, re-poured concrete and revamped the whole restaurant design.
The inside is elegant now, but Murphey and Francisco gutted the entire building and tore down the southern wall to make room for a bathroom that’s double the size. Murphey jackhammered out floor tiles in the kitchen and behind the bar.
Sake will have a grand opening next football season. All that’s left to do is finalize the menu, hang abstract paintings, and let Columbia taste what it’s been missing