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Yaku to swim with the (raw) fishes

We interrupt Y&H’s Home Cooking Day to pass along this news: Yaku, the Latin Concept restaurant dedicated to chifa cuisine and other Peruvian specialties, will close in January and reopen as a rock ‘n’ roll/sushi establishment.

Mauricio Fraga-Rosenfeld, founder of the Latin Concepts group of fashionable restaurant/lounges, tells Y&H that he was forced to sell Yaku after disappointing sales. The restaurant opened in October 2008, and Latin Concepts couldn’t find a way to overcome its poor location and keep the place packed.

“Great concept and a very bad location,” Fraga-Rosenfeld says over the phone. “The location should have been downtown.”

The Latin Concepts owner compares Yaku’s woes to Oyamel, the Mexican small-plates restaurant in Crystal City that couldn’t make a go of it until THINKfoodGROUP relocated it to downtown D.C.  “They moved to D.C. and did extremely well,” Fraga-Rosenfeld adds.

Does that mean Latin Concepts might resurrect Yaku in D.C.? Fraga-Rosenfeld isn’t ruling out the possibility, but for now, he just wants to focus on his current properties, including Chi-Cha Lounge, Gua-Rapo, the Kitchen, and Ceviche in Silver Spring. One of his places will be receiving a makeover soon, with a whole new concept, Fraga-Rosenfeld adds. He couldn’t give any more details at present.

As for Yaku, Latin Concepts sold it to Public Group, the same partners responsible for the sports bar-lounge amalgam known as Public Bar. Tony Hudgins, a managing partner for Public Group, says that the new owners will continue to operate Yaku as is until early January, when it will be closed for remodeling. He dubbed the renovations mostly cosmetic.

It will reopen in early February as the combination rock ‘n’ roll/sushi operation. The name hasn’t been determined yet, Hudgins says, nor has all the details for the food. The new owners expect to carryover a few of the items on the current Yaku menu.

So will the rock ‘n’ roll be live? Likely not, Hudgins says. Think DJs, but spinning rock instead of club music.

Photo by Darrow Montgomery