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Brentwood restaurant Soy Bistro changes ownership

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On Saturday, Aug. 1, Soy Teriyaki Bistro, one of Brentwood’s most popular locally owned restaurants, will change ownership. Don’t expect any big changes, though, as the new owners want to continue the culture that has made the business successful since opening their doors in the summer of 2010. 

Michael Kaplan and Kenji (Brian) Ichikawa are the new owners, and both are committed to the same quality food and service that Soy Bistro is known for. 

“If nobody realized we were new owners, this would be the best possible scenario,” Kaplan said.

Ichikawa met owners Chris and Hanna Lee in 2011 and became a regular customer at the restaurant. Having a long line of high-end restaurant experience, he saw first hand the dedication and love the Lees had for creating delicious food and, more importantly, the relationships and how they treated everyone who walked through the door. 

By Sept. 1, a new and updated website will be available. Ichikawa will manage the day to day of the restaurant. He has hired a kitchen manager and is beefing up the back-house staff to offer a few new menu items. 

No worries for those who enjoy some of the favorites Soy Bistro offers. Entrees like Bibimbop Skillet are not going away. 

To assist diners in making healthier choices, calorie counts will be shown on the menu. Because Ichikawa himself has a wife who has special diet needs, the menu will also offer options for those with food allergies and special diets. 

“We want everyone who walks through the door to have options for them. But, no worries, the staples of Soy Bistro aren’t going anywhere,” Ichikawa said. 

The Lees decided before the COVID-19 pandemic hit they were ready for a new venture. Although they had signed a long-term lease, when the pandemic hit and two serious buyers stepped forward, they saw it as the right time to walk away. 

“We will take the next six months to rest, focus on listening, as we are open to new concepts,” Chris Lee said. 

“We thank God for blessing us with Soy Bistro,” the couple said in a statement. “He had led us to build a family at Soy with our employees and a nice community in Brentwood. We truly appreciate all our customers who’ve been supporting us for many years. We’ll truly miss them and we can’t wait to meet them again in the new chapter of our lives.” 

The Lees built the business from the ground up, doing everything themselves. They shared that when they opened, it was family members who worked alongside them to pitch in, save money and grow the business. 

Hanna Lee began cooking at a young age and loved to cook authentic Korean food. She often cooked for the family’s church group and knew a lot about making large quantities of food. It was only natural to open Soy Bistro, and the couple became a vital part of the community.

“We know our regular customers by what they order. We know their names,” the Lees said. 

It was a testament to the loyalty of the customers who, as soon as the restaurant reopened after being shut down for more than a month, came back in full force. On June 15, in-service dining began again, with masks being mandatory.

Soy Bistro is located at 5008 Maryland Way, Ste B., in Brentwood. The restaurant is open Monday-Saturday with lunch being served from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., and dinner is 4-8 p.m. except on Wednesdays.

Visit www.soybistro.com for more information.

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