Young and Hungry

James Horn Leaves Daikaya With Plans to Open His Own Place

Friday was Daikaya general manager James Horn's last day at the hot new Japanese izakaya and ramen shop. He tells Y&H he left the restaurant to focus on his consulting company with the eventual goal of opening on a restaurant and bar of his own.

Horn, the opening GM at Graffiato and Bandolero, comes from a restaurant family, who recently closed their longtime American steakhouse called Pals Cabin in West Orange, N.J. Horn's plan is to open a piano bar and restaurant in the District inspired by the piano room at Pals Cabin known as the Tap Room, which was decked out in dark wood, red leather, and mirrors with a little bit of a Western flare. (Fun fact: Pals Cabin is where a young Liberace started his piano career.)

In addition to the piano, Horn envisions a cocktail-centric spot with a limited bar food menu, where people can also go to watch sports. He's still in the early stages, scouting properties and looking for investors, but he hopes to open the establishment in summer or fall of 2014. He says he a name in mind for it, but he isn't sharing yet.

In the meantime, Horn plans to work on the openings of other restaurants, including Mike Isabella's forthcoming Greek-inspired eatery Kapnos. He started a consulting company called Next Level Hospitality a few years ago, but only consulted on one restaurant opening in New York. Now, he's hoping to bring the business back to life. "I like setting things up for success and then seeing them grow," he says. "And with the recent influx of openings in D.C., there's opportunity to help people there."

Daikaya co-owner Daisuke Utagawa says the split was amicable and he wishes Horn luck. "He's still part of the family," Utagawa says.

Photo by Greg Powers

...