Chef Ota opened his first US restaurant in Bethesda, which is a Japanese style restaurant versus a purely sushi establishment. Although, Yuzu was well-received and a popular place to eat. He still dreamed of opening a restaurant concept focused on specific on his training as a sushi chef.

“I wanted a restaurant by the White House, in the middle of a very popular area of DC, so that I could cater to a larger international audience. I want people to experience my sushi concept, special offerings and unique menus showcasing sushi as it is in Japan.” – Chef Ota



Challenges in opening restaurants in the United States versus Japan

“Overall, in the USA it takes so much money and time to open a restaurant because of permits and legal documents and construction vs. Japan; in Japan it only takes a month if simply remodeling a space into a restaurant (USA Sushi Gakyu took two years). By the time the space opens, trends and tastes can change from when you initially have the concept.”

Developing a brand

Though the experience was arduous at times and many challenges were overcome, once the red tape was taken care of, NRG assisted not only in securing a location, but developed the logo and marketing materials around the brand as well as providing PR, advertising and event opening coordination.



Sushi Gakyu is a notable edition to the downtown culinary scene. From the design of the interior to the perfectly orchestrated omakase menu, Sushi Gakyu is arguably one of the best sushi bars in the city.

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