After a 36-year run, Ichiban Japanese Steakhouse & Sushi Bar is calling it quits.
"Thirty-six years is a long time to do anything," said Keith Levit in a statement. Levit is son of founder Jack Levit. "We've been a staple in the community for much of that time and that's something we're very grateful for. It's sad that it's coming to an end here but we're very proud of what we've accomplished."
The teppanyaki restaurant (that's a 1981 Star Tribune file photo, above) was once part of a five-unit chain that originated in Winnipeg in 1973. That location remains open, but the others -- in Reno, Nev., Fargo, N.D., and Palm Springs, Calif. -- no longer exist.
Ichiban, popular with conventioneers, features one of the oldest sushi bars in the Twin Cities. When the above photo was taken in 1985, here's what restaurant critic Jeremy Iggers had to say: "The 10 to 15 varieties of raw fish, octopus, abalone and vinegared rice tidbits have been marked down for the duration from $ 1.50 to $ 1.19 per serving. The delivery system is unusual - between the counter and the chef's workspace is a little moat filled with water on which little wooden boats float. The chef, in this case Hide Sekimoto, places his creations on board the boats, and when a tempting morsel sails by, you snatch it off."
Those prices, 31 years later? Slightly higher: roughly $5 per variety. The restaurant offers a great all-you-can-eat sushi deal: $28, between 4:30 and 6 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday.
Ichiban will be the third restaurant to close on Nicollet since the mall's $50 million reconstruction project began. Masa went dark in October 2015, and Vincent followed two months later. The Masa space remains empty, and a Caribou Coffee/Einstein Bros. Bagels mash-up now occupies the former Vincent space.
No word on what will become of the distinctive Ichiban structure (pictured, above), with its pagoda-style flourishes. The restaurant's last day is July 30.