Fast casual Asian chain plants fourth restaurant in Cap Hill

menya 16th st

One of Menya’s locations at the 16th Street Mall. It is adding a Cap Hill restaurant. (Kailyn Lamb)

More ramen and poke is coming to Cap Hill.

Menya owner J.W. Lee will open the chain’s fourth restaurant, this time hitting the Capitol Hill neighborhood. The restaurateur is taking over the former Los Tacos space at 600 E. Colfax Ave.

Los Tacos announced its closure in a Facebook post on Nov. 13.

Lee said he wanted to be part of the growing culture of the neighborhood and expand his brand there. The former taco spot, he said, provided a perfect venue for a fast casual ramen and poke restaurant.

“They were similar to us, with a counter service,” he said.

Lee said that since the location was previously a restaurant, he hopes to have the new Menya location ready in 30 to 45 days. He has a 10-year lease on the property.

“We will hopefully be open before the holidays to get that traffic.”

The restaurant comprises 1,500 square feet downstairs, which Lee said will host the same concept as his other locations – customers order food from the counter and take it to a table. Upstairs, which is 1,600 square feet, will have a sit-down restaurant serving small dishes.

Lee said he wanted the second floor to cater to the late-night crowd in Cap Hill. It will have a full bar.

j.w. lee

Menya owner J.W. Lee, center, and his partner chefs. (Menya)

John Livaditis of Axio Commercial Real Estate represented the landlord, and Jeff Germain from Stratus Brokers represented Menya in the transaction.

Lee said the new restaurant is being funded from profits of the previous three. The first Menya opened in Greenwood Village in March 2016. The 16th Street Mall location opened in April this year and a Commons Park location followed in summer. All three are currently profitable, he said.

“We’re a chef-driven restaurant so we don’t have deep pockets,” Lee said.

Lee first came to Colorado from the St. Louis area 10 years ago to open his first restaurant, Wasabi. He is originally from South Korea. He trained there and in Japan as a chef.

The first three Menya restaurants focused on individual Japanese cuisines. In Greenwood Village it serves mostly sushi, Commons Park serves ramen and poke, and downtown serves noodles.

Lee said keeping the different foods separate was a good experiment to see what people would buy throughout the year. Now, Menya likely will focus on selling different dishes within the same menu.

“Poke itself is a great concept, but in Colorado we have weather changes,” Lee said. “In the summertime they might order more poke, in the wintertime they order more ramen.”

menya 16th st

One of Menya’s locations at the 16th Street Mall. It is adding a Cap Hill…

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