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Japonee opens new locations


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By Alli Friedman



After a fire ravaged Japanee last September, the restaurant has opened two new locations, including their newest, Japonee Express, changing the spelling of their name.

This new restaurant on Kirkwood, which opened June 9, has been a success since students have arrived back on campus, said owner Shi Zhong.

“The people that eat here are happy,” Zhong said.

Japonee Express offers a wide variety of sushi, some Korean food, a delivery service and free miso soup.

Zhong also opened the Sake Bar on North Walnut Street in early May, which features sushi and sake bombs.

Janice Zhan,  Zhong’s wife and co-owner, said they decided to open Japonee Express because of its prime location.

“We opened here because it’s easy for the students to come to lunch,” Zhan said.

Zhan said a lot of students don’t have a car to go to the Sake Bar or the other Japonee, so they designed another location to make it easier for students.

Zhong said they are currently rebuilding the old Japonee and are planning to reopen it by early October.

“We remodeled everything inside,” he said. “We are also planning on having a karaoke bar.”

The three Japonee restaurants will all offer something different for the customers, Zhong said. The Sake Bar only serves sushi and is geared more toward people who want to drink, eat sushi and “party,” Zhong said.

The Japonee they are planning to reopen is more family-oriented because it offers many different foods, Zhong said.

Zhong said they haven’t advertised for Japonee Express, but business has still been positive.

“People are always walking by and wanting to check out our new restaurant,” he said. “Since the students have been back, business has been up about 30 percent.”

David Sheehan, artistic associate at the Bloomington Playwrights Project, visited Japonee Express for the first time and said it’s nice to have the business back.

“We were sad that the old location closed, and we’re so happy that they opened here,” Sheehan said. “We can’t wait for the other one to reopen.”

Follow business and economics reporter Alli Friedman on Twitter @afreedz.

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The Bloomington Fire Department extinguishes a blaze of smoke and flames Sept. 24, 2012, at Japanee restaurant and sushi bar. Courtesy photo / Courtesy of Merrill Hatlen Buy Photos

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