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Kushi Izakaya & Sushi will close at the end of this weekend, following an eviction lawsuit from its landlord for unpaid rent.

“It was my first restaurant, and it was a great lesson for me,” owner Darren Lee Norris tells Y&H. “I’ve been a chef my whole life and it was my first try at being an owner and as far as I’m concerned, I was successful.” He points out that plenty of restaurants open and close within only a year or two. “I feel good that we lasted as long as we did,” he says. The restaurant opened in 2010, helping to popularize the izakaya trend in D.C. that has caught on with places like Daikaya and Izakaya Seki.

The landlord, Edens, filed a lawsuit in D.C. Landlord & Tenant Court in January seeking payment of more than $131,000 from August 2013 through January of this year. In February, Edens also filed a separate civil suit for breach of contract against Norris and his wife Ari Norris as well as fellow lease guarantor Ichio Kushimoto. That complaint stated that the restaurant owed nearly $160,000 in rent and other charges through Feb. 11. The court docket shows the civil case is still open. 

“There were things we could have controlled maybe better, and there were things that we couldn’t control that had nothing to do with us,” Norris says of the closure. “We did the best we could, and it’s time to move on.”

Speaking of which, Norris is already moving on with another Japanese concept. He says he’s signing on a lease this week for the former Homemade Pizza Co. space at 1522 14th St. NW. Norris declined to share further details.

“When one door closes, another door opens,” he says.

Photo courtesy Kushi