After being forced to close, this family-run Japanese restaurant has reopened in east Mesa

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36-year-old Mesa restaurant Toh Zan Nagasaki Grill reopened Nov. 9, 2019, after losing its previous building. Johanna Huckeba, Arizona Republic

In August, husband-and-wife team Yoshito and Yuko Eguchi faced uncertainty when they were forced to close their Mesa restaurant Toh Zan Nagasaki Grill. It was Yoshito’s 71st birthday and for 36 years, the restaurant had been the couple’s life.

They had a decision to make: Go into retirement earlier than they had planned or attempt to relocate.

Less than three months later, their choice has become apparent. On Saturday, Nov. 9, the Eguchis opened the doors to their restaurant once again, hoping to see both familiar and new faces.

“I believe it will be the final spot for the restaurant,” Yoshito told The Arizona Republic on Monday morning. “I’d like to finish my career at the restaurant at this point. I’m very, very happy, my wife too.” 

Relocating farther east in Mesa, Toh Zan Nagasaki Grill is now open for lunch and dinner six days a week, serving Nagasaki-style Japanese cuisine.

Why displaced family restaurant had to move

If it had been up to the Eguchis, they wouldn’t have left the northwest corner of Dobson Road and Southern Avenue, which is part of an area of Mesa known for a proliferation of Asian restaurants and businesses.

But the landlord, 2120 Southern Ave, LLC, wanted otherwise.

Arcadia Management Group sent the Eguchis a letter on behalf of their landlord announcing the end of their tenancy. The letter dated July 24, 2019, stated the Eguchis had until Aug. 31 to vacate and surrender the premise.

FOR SUBSCRIBERS: Why Toh Zan Nagasaki Grill was forced to close

Yuko described their reaction as “total shock.”

But they understood it was within the landlord’s rights. The Eguchis had operated the restaurant on a month-to-month lease since 2001, Yoshito said. The couple wanted to ask for a move-out extension but had trouble getting a hold of Arcadia Management Group, they said.

While the time after the closure was difficult, the family worked their way up to reopening the restaurant, Yoshito said.

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“We’ve worked tirelessly to find a new location, renovate the space, and obtain all the right permits and approvals to allow us to quickly get back to doing what we love — serving the East Valley authentic Japanese food,” the owners announced on Facebook

For decades, Toh Zan Nagasaki Grill had given the Eguchis fond memories with their customers and the financial means to raise their three daughters, Ritsuko, Miko and Lilli. When the restaurant reopened in east Mesa with Lilli’s help, Yoshito said he was surprised by how many people came.

“It was crazy busy,” Yoshito said. “I was very, very happy, but very tired.”

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Toh Zan Nagasaki Grill

Details: 1135 N. Recker Rd., #113, Mesa. 480-668-6688, facebook.com/TohZan.

Reach the reporter at Priscilla.Totiya@azcentral.com or 602-444-8092. Follow her on Twitter: @PriscillaTotiya.

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