Tanoshii has been building a loyal customer base in Andersonville since 2004, owner Mike Ham's TV appearances helping to gain exposure for an otherwise under-the-radar sushi restaurant. Now Ham (aka Sushi Mike) is ready to bring his customer base to the West Loop, recently signing a lease for an expansion he says has been five years in the making. Ham says he's going all-out to compete with the other high-profile concepts on Randolph Row.
"I'm so excited for the competition," Ham says. "I want to have fun down there too...I don't worry about anyone."
Named Sushi Mike's, his new 4,800 square-foot location just west of the Kennedy is much larger than the 70-seat Tanoshii—he plans on filling it with 118 seats and a bar. Construction is already underway, Ham expects to finish in time to open by the end of October.
Although the menu will feature many of the same sushi items as Tanoshii, he's going to add in a few wrinkles. He'll offer rotating 6-12 course tasting menus, more hot food from the kitchen, sashimi plates, and "many types of sake."
Ham, a Hinsdale native, will be in close proximity to a former employer that's also expanding to the West Loop—Nobu. He lived in New York for six months in 2001 and worked at Nobu.
He based his decision to expand on personal factors and customer requests. "I'm getting old—this is my last so I'm putting everything together," he says. "And a lot of (customers) want me to expand because they don't always want to drive up (to Andersonville)."
Those customers will get their wish when Sushi Mike's hits Randolph Row in the fall.
· Tanoshii [Facebook]