Jeramey Jannene
Dining

Downtown Sushi Restaurant Moving Forward

Restaurateur purchases Milwaukee Street building.

By - May 7th, 2020 02:13 pm
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770-772 N. Milwaukee St. in 2015. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

770-772 N. Milwaukee St. in 2015. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

A proposed sushi-hibachi restaurant for downtown Milwaukee looks to be moving forward.

Lichai Chen acquired the building at 770-772 N. Milwaukee St. for $1.15 million on Tuesday. The property is assessed for $911,900.

Chen is proposing to open Ninja MKE in the building, his third sushi and hibachi combination restaurant. He also owns and operates Ninja Japanese Steakhouse in West Bend and Ninja Hibachi Sushi Steakhouse in Menomonee Falls.

The first floor of the Milwaukee building would contain a sushi bar, bar and kitchen. The second floor would contain hibachi tables where chefs prepare and cook Japanese food in the presence of customers.

Chen secured city approval for a liquor license and food dealer permit for the proposed Milwaukee location in February. His attorney, Vincent Bobot, said Chen would be investing $1.4 million in the restaurant.

Ninja MKE would be open Sundays 12 p.m. to 9 a.m., Mondays through Thursdays 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., and Fridays and Saturdays 11 a.m. to 12 a.m.

A liquor license filed with the city in October 2019 said Chen hoped to open the restaurant in June 2020.

Chen acquired the property from Balbir Singh, owner of Indian restaurant Maharaja on the city’s Lower East Side. Through Bellsuper LLC, Singh had acquired the building in February 2016 for $922,500.

The 7,834-square-foot building was constructed in 1913 according to city records.

The building was previously occupied by art dealer Michael H. LordZim’s Bar and Catch 22 Bar and Grill. The second floor has been home to multiple gyms.

It was also the proposed site for a strip club in 2016. After being denied a license, the prospective owners settled a lawsuit with the city alongside other strip club applicants and were granted a single license on N. Old World Third St.

A cocktail lounge and event venue was approved for the space in early 2019, but never moved forward.

Chen did not respond to a request for comment by the time of publication.

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