Hapa Izakaya was among a small wave of izakayas in the city when it opened its first location at 1479 Robson Street in 2003. However, since that time, numerous other izakayas have opened or expanded, in addition to the ramen shop explosion.
Its range of sharable, tapas-style dishes, from ebi mayo and chicken karaage to beef tataki and negitoro, the menu helped introduce modern Japanese cuisine to the mainstream market, all served within a stylish environment.
Since that time, increased competition, shifting trends, and rising rents have created challenges for several eateries. Among them has been Hapa Izakaya.
A notice of seizure dated June 7 has been issued for Hapa Izakaya Robson, which states that $96,694.46 is owed under the Rent Distress Act. If the sum (plus costs, charges, and expenses) is not received within five days from the date of the notice, the goods may be sold off.
Owner Justin Ault issued a statement that said "While we gave it our all, in the end, the enormous rent made it impossible to sustain our business at Hapa Robson."
While he thanked the support he received over the years, he said that "shutting down a restaurant (or having it shut down for you) is a huge kick in the gut".
The Robson Street closure follows the shuttering of Hapa Beach at 1516 Yew Street in August 2015.
In January, owner Justin Ault had sectioned off one-third of Hapa Robson to create Hapa Ramen in a bid to crack the booming ramen market in the Robson and Denman area.
The Coal Harbour and Yaletown locations will remain open, in addition to their restaurants in Calgary and Toronto.
Ault responded to an interview request after this article was posted. To read what Ault had to say about his surprise at the closure, read this article.
Meanwhile, neighbouring tea house Capstone Tea and Fondue also recently closed down at 1429 Robson Street. The company did not respond to an inquiry from the Georgia Straight.