Young and Hungry

Yaku to Close and Turn into a Rock ‘n’ Roll/Sushi Concept


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

  • c

    I hope it's not really called the "Pubic Group"

  • dan riley

    WTF is a "rock n roll/sushi" concept? Are you just gonna throw that phrase out there "willy-nilly"?

  • Simon

    Pubic group? I'm so not going to eat there.

  • Tim Carman

    Typo fixed. Glad to see we have such close readers here at Y&H Central. Must be all those unemployed copy editors. :(

  • Tim Carman


    It sounds like a rock lounge concept to me, combined with sushi. But I'll have more details later.

  • muckraker

    that's too bad. I liked their brunch. Good tots.

  • some dude

    wow, way to ripoff Sticky Rice. good luck with that!

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  • goober

    it was a cool atmosphere and had good happy hour, but Yaku's food was a bit over priced and pretty inconsistent...

  • Beth

    A little late to the party, but I gotta say that the diss at Arlington ("The location should have been downtown.") is undeserved. Anyone trying to get thru Ballston or Clarendon most evenings will see that a downtown location isn't essential to draw a crowd. And there are places off the Metro path (Rays Hell-Burger, Village Bistro) that seem to get by as well.

    I'm afraid that Yaku soffered from both being "out of sight, out of mind" and not able to generate the buzz needed given the less-than-stellar location.

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  • Alan

    I had nothing to do with location and everything to do with the food.
    They never even tried to really make the restaurant work (e.g. grand opening celebration, getting word out in the neighborhood, a better and more diversified menu, etc). I knew they were finished when I walked in there and all the waiters and hostess people looked as though they just came in from the street. No one to blame but themselves. Here's to hoping the sushi place is better.

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  • Lauren

    The food at Yaku was pretty blah. It was too similar to Guarapo. There are a lot of sushi / rock-bar rezy's in Miami... Hopefully this one takes off.