When Kimie Loeffler began serving Japanese food, the California roll didn’t exist and raw fish was something you kept exclusively in the freezer.
Kobe An, located at 231 Milwaukee St. in Cherry Creek — which its owner Loeffler said was the oldest Japanese restaurant in Colorado — closed its doors this month. The space it leased will be demolished to make way for apartments, and Loeffler isn’t looking to relocate.
“It was time for me to retire,” Loeffler said.
While a similarly named establishment, Kobe An LoHi, operates to the north, it is separate from Loeffler’s business. That location, she said, is run by her husband and daughter. They have a smaller menu with a heavier emphasis on shabu-shabu and sukiyaki, a hot-pot style cuisine.
Loeffler opened the original Kobe An in Boulder in 1979, and added a second location in Lakewood a few years later. But like the current restaurant location, her Lakewood spot was also marked for demolition. The restaurant’s final move, from Lakewood to Cherry Creek, happened in 2015.
“It was never our desire to move to Cherry Creek; we were forced to,” Loeffler said.
Loeffler said the business served some of the highest-ranking Japanese dignitaries, including the current emperor, though that was long before he ascended to the Chrysanthemum Throne.
“When I first opened, people said: ‘Oh, what’s sushi – raw fish – what is this? It’s just a fad,’” Loeffler said.
“Sushi is here to stay. People love sushi.”
Denver-based BMC Investments is set to redevelop Kobe An’s space, along with neighboring buildings. CEO Matt Joblon told BusinessDen work at the site could begin in about 90 days.