Lee, who also owns Mexican restaurant Skinny’s Cantina in Long Island City, will open Sapps Restaurant at 27-26 Jackson Avenue. Eric Lehrer, the beverage director for Sapps Restaurant, said Lee wanted to recreate the experience he got at a Japanese restaurant he used to frequent called Sapporo East in Manhattan, which is now closed.
The new space, which used to be a factory, is 2,000 square feet and includes a mezzanine for private parties. It also includes a mural by Colombian-American artist Andrés García-Peña. Lehrer said the owners wanted to pay homage to the neighborhood’s industrial and artistic history – the 5Pointz grafitti mecca was located near the restaurant – while adding a modern twist.
Sapps Restaurant will offer more traditional Japanese dishes such as specialty sushi rolls and teriyaki dishes but will serve Asian fusion dishes like sushi pizza. Chef Mitsuri Kita will be handling the menu. Kita is originally from Osaka and came to the United States when he was 23 to become a chef. He has worked in a number of high-end Japanese restaurants and is also a restaurant consultant.
Lehrer said that he and Lee are excited to open a location on Jackson Avenue, especially because the area has seen more development in recent years. Lehrer has been the bartender and manager of Shi since it first opened nine years ago and said the owners and staff have established many relationships with Long Island City residents.
“As a business owner, you would like to get in on the ground level. Prices and rents are only going to go up in Long Island City,” he said. “From an operations standpoint we’re just happy that we have the opportunity to be a part of the community. It actually is a community where you see a lot of the same people who all live around and you become very close.”
The restaurant will be open and serving a limited menu until its official opening on Tuesday, Nov. 28. For more information or to make a reservation, visit sappslic.com.