By Kevin Collison
Blue Sushi Sake Grill will be splashing at a new location in the Power & Light District this fall, its second operation in the metro since opening in Westwood in 2016.
The fast-growing national chain that prides itself on serving sustainable seafood in a vivid, Japanese-themed, contemporary setting plans to open in the former Bar Louie space at 101 E. 14th St. following a $3 million renovation.
“The (Westwood) store we have there has been performing really well in recent years despite Covid,” said Nick Hogan, CEO and co-founder of Omaha-based Flagship Restaurant Group.
“We feel we have room to grow in that market. Our restaurant works well in true neighborhoods and entertainment districts, and close to the convention and concert crowds.”
Blue Sushi’s arrival comes only a month after Drunken Fish, another Power & Light District restaurant specializing in sushi, closed its doors.
“My understanding is they were on their way out before we entered negotiations,” Hogan said.
Hogan said Blue Sushi had been fishing for a downtown location for awhile and liked the corner at 14th and Walnut formerly occupied by Bar Louie. Bar Louie closed two years ago after operating at that location since 2011.
“Over the years, various opportunities opened up in that vicinity, maybe the Power & Light District, maybe not, but this was the right space and the right time.
“The corner has great visibility and its an attractive site for Blue and the sushi product. It’s a great, celebratory experience and we do well with events and conventions as a gathering space.”
The Blue Sushi plan calls for renovating the location, which originally opened as a Ted’s Montana Grill, by adding a mezzanine level and a sky light to make it brighter and expand its capacity 20- to 30 percent.
A building permit application filed with the city estimated the total renovation cost at $3 million.
John Moncke, president of the Power & Light District, said the renovation will be done jointly by Flag Restaurant Group and the entertainment district owned by the Cordish Co.
“Blue Sushi is a premiere operator, and they will enhance what is already an amazing lineup of dining options in the Power & Light District,” Moncke said in a statement.
“Together, we are making several upgrades to the space, and it will be an attractive dining experience for residents and visitors alike.”
The new downtown Kansas City location is one of five new Blue Sushi’s in the works over the next year or so, Hogan said.
The first Blue Sushi opened in Omaha in 2002. There are now 16 Blue Sushi’s in nine states with a new one scheduled to open next month Nashville.
Overall, Flagship Restaurant Group has added several other food and beverage concepts since its founding and opened more than 30 restaurants in a dozen markets including Denver, Chicago, Austin and Phoenix.
“Flagship Restaurant Group is currently the country’s largest sushi restaurant group running a sustainably sourced seafood program in partnership with the prestigious Monterey Bay Aquarium,” according to a press release.
“In addition to some of the best responsibly-sourced meats and seafood on the menu, they also have one of the broadest selection of vegan sushi in the country.”
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