Bar Yoshi Plans Expansion Across Old South Wharf

Jason Graziadei •

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Bar Yoshi, the popular sushi and Japanese cuisine restaurant, is looking to expand its footprint on Old South Wharf.

The restaurant's plans were revealed Tuesday afternoon when the Historic District Commission reviewed an application submitted by Nantucket Island Resorts for fenestration changes at 7 and 8 Old South Wharf.

"The project before you is an adjunct to Bar Yoshi, that has been in existence for the last three or four years on the wharf, and been a very successful restaurant, very popular," said Mark Poor, of Permits Plus Inc., who presented the application on behalf of NIR Retail, LLC. "And they've run out of room. So they have got together with NIR, the retail aspect, and are seeking to rent, expand into another space that is opposite to them."

Poor said the building across from Bar Yoshi has been used by the restaurant for preparation and storage. The application to the HDC from NIR Retail includes the installation of reverse awning windows and other changes to make the two buildings across from each other appear as "twins" in terms of their exteriors.

"They want to identify this particular building in the same fashion that was approved by the HDC for their current format, across the Old South Wharf, so that the two buildings would generate the same perception of ownership, same perception of being congruous with their total restaurant aspect, and with that in mind, they’re here to essentially propose that the two buildings identify themselves from the exterior features on the premises," Poor said.

Bar Yoshi is currently limited to just 50 seats due to the fact it has only one bathroom. It's unclear how many seats it could add with the expansion across the wharf.

The members of the HDC that reviewed the application were lukewarm on the proposed changes to the historic wharf cottage, which is listed as a contributing structure on the National Register of Historic Places.

"The proposal is inappropriate," said HDC member Diane Coombs. "Whether the restaurant is expanding or not, the building is the important thing...It has to go back and be rethought."

HDC member Abby Camp agreed.

"The proposal is missing the character that those batten doors bring," Camp said. "That's all taken away. You have just four windows in a room - it takes the character away from it. I would go back to the drawing board on this one."

A motion to hold the application for further revisions and more information was unanimously approved.

Bar Yoshi was put on notice earlier this month by the Nantucket Board of Health after inspectors discovered violations of its seating capacity.

The Health Department’s Chief Environmental Health Officer John Hedden told the board that the sushi restaurant is limited to 50 seats, but on three different inspections he had discovered Bar Yoshi had set up 74 seats, 58 seats, and 68 seats.

“They’re out of compliance and it seems to be a problem,” Hedden said. “It comes down to chronic violations.”

Hedden's discovery prompted the Board of Health to vote unanimously in favor of enforcement actions if future violations are discovered.

Meanwhile, the owner of Bar Yoshi is embroiled in a pending legal dispute with the restaurant's namesake. Yoshi Mabuchi, the co-founder of the former Sushi by Yoshi restaurant in downtown Nantucket, is suing his old business partner’s nephew, Terrance Noyes, alleging that he was illegally frozen out of his stake in the restaurant's reincarnation as Bar Yoshi.

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