Japanese Convenience Store Coming to Court Street Plaza

Posted on September 6, 2023 by aatkinson

Popular Local Chef Bringing Sushi and More to Cincinnati’s Urban Core

CINCINNATI (September 6, 2023) – Co-owner of popular College Hill restaurant Kiki, and small Findlay Market fish and seafood butcher shop Sen, Hideki Harada recently signed a lease with Cincinnati Center City Development Corp. (3CDC) for an 830-square-foot space along Court Street Plaza. Located at 31 E. Court Street, Harada plans to open a Japanese konbini – or convenience store in the space later this fall.

A Cincinnati resident since childhood, Harada learned to make sushi while attending Ohio State University. He went on to become a sushi chef and helped open Embers – a popular Kenwood restaurant. Eventually, Harada moved to Japan for four years, where he attended culinary school to refine his craft. Upon returning to the US, he helped open Kaze, serving as executive chef at the popular eatery in Over-the-Rhine (OTR), prior to branching out on his own to open Kiki. He followed that up with Sen, which opened just last year.

Now, Harada wants to bring something unique – but familiar – to the community. The convenience store, named Daruma, will carry an assortment of authentic items ranging from Japanese household staples like soy sauce and miso to snacks and candy, as well as a variety of grab-and-go items like sushi rolls, bento boxes, onigiri, and even beer and sake to-go. It will also have a hot water dispenser for tea and instant cup noodles.

“So much about the city has changed since Kaze opened,” said Harada. “Both Downtown Cincinnati and OTR have developed a lot of good energy over the last several years. Court Street has become such an inviting, walkable area – perfect for this type of concept.”

Daruma will also feature a small outdoor patio where patrons can sit and enjoy their lunch overlooking the newly revitalized plaza.

“Court Street Plaza has continued to grow into more of a dining destination for locals, visitors and businesspeople alike, and we’ve worked really hard to bring a diverse range of food and beverage options to patrons,” said Lindzie Gunnels, Commercial Leasing Manager with 3CDC. “Daruma will not only expand the selection of lunch choices, but add the convenience factor of high-quality, ready-made lunches and other authentic Japanese items for folks on the go.”

Build-out of the space, which is being designed by Team B Architecture & Design, is underway. Upon completion, it will be bright and inviting with wood accents. Daruma is slated to open later this year.

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