Sonoda's will leave LoDo at the end of service tomorrow

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After almost twenty years in lower downtown, longtime restaurateur Kenny Sonoda is calling it quits, and at the end of service tomorrow, the Sonoda's at 1620 Market Street will go dark. When Sonoda opened this second location of Sonoda's -- in the former home of the Manhattan Cafe, a pioneer of fine dining in this part of town -- Coors Field was just going up, and LoDo was hardly the hot entertainment destination it's become. And it will soon become hotter: When buses move to Union Station three months from now, the Market Street Station right across from Sonoda's will be redeveloped.

At one point Sonoda's had several locations in the metro area; after this weekend, the original Sonoda's at 3108 South Parker Road in Aurora will be the last one left. Master sushi chef Makoto Kawafne is taking over that spot. See also: Sonoda's closes on Broadway

Here's the farewell message that Kenny Sonoda has posted on the Sonoda's website.

With over 26 years in the business now behind me, the time has come for me to hand up the knives and announce my retirement. And yet it is with more than a bit of sadness that I announce the closure of my Downtown Restaurant on Market Street on Feb. 15.

In 1973 I first came to Denver, Colorado,to help build and open the Gasho of Japan, a Japanese Hibachi style steak house in downtown Denver (1627 Curtis St.). In 1976, I returned to Denver to build a free standing building of Gasho of Japan Restaurant. This time I build a replica of a 400-year-old Gasho farm house, found in Takayama City of Japan, the sister city to Denver, Colorado. This Gasho of Japan restaurant was located in DTC on Belleview and I-25 where Shanahan's Steak House is currently standing.

In 1988, I opened my first Sonodas Sushi Restaurant in Aurora, Colorado. I was one of the first to introduce the cuisine to Denver when the concept of sushi and sashimi was still unknown. I worked hard to teach Denver about a tradition and a delicacy that I love so very much. I cannot say that I ever imagined that sushi would become the trend it has, but I am happy that my adopted country has grown to love it in the way that I have my entire life.

I have been fortunate to met and get to know entire families. I have watched their children grow and have children of their own but it is no time for me to retire and enjoy the next chapter of my life. I will miss all of you. That task now falls on the shoulders of the man who started Sonodas with me so many years ago -- my friend and master sushi chef Makoto Kawafne.

Makoto will continue to serve you and your families at his Aurora location. Your Welcome Club points can be used there as always and he will greet you with the same family spirit that I have.

And one more time, Domo Arigato.

Kenny Sonoda

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