The Robson Street storefronts of Hapa Izakaya and Hapa Ramen have sat empty since they were permanently closed over a year ago.
The West End spots, which were the first locations of the locally based Hapa Izakaya chainlet, were shut down in June 2016 because of overdue rent.
However, two new eateries are set to take over the spaces.
Ramen Koika, which opened at 1231 Davie Street in 2014, will open its second location at 1479 Robson Street, the former location of Hapa Izakaya.
Ramen Koika co-owners Caleb Yoondoh Lee and Sophie Won previously ran Hatzu Japanese Bistro at 1175 Davie Street, which was formerly Sushi Bella until they relaunched it in 2016, and then sold it off in February of this year.
Lee informed the Georgia Straight that the new Robson location will be the first franchise for Koika and that they're aiming for a November 1 opening.
While the Davie Street location is about 1,000 square feet and seats about 30 people, the new space will be even larger at 1,700 square feet and will seat up to about 40 people.
While the restaurant will be entering the most competitive ramen hot-spot in the city, where numerous noodle joints such as Hokkaido Ramen Santouka, Marutama, and Kintaro draw devoted lineups, Lee said he feels that his menu has different items that help to set them apart from the others.
Koika's menu covers a wide range of ramen, with many types that other local ramen spots don't offer, such as Nagasaki champon ramen, with prawns, scallops, mussels, squid, black tree fungus, red pepper, Thai chili, and more; wok-based yakisoba ramen; triple black garlic paitan ramen; kim chi ramen with shredded pork; abura maze soba ramen (without broth); and more.
Lee said he's aware that the Robson Street area has a demographic mix that differs from the Davie Village milieu, so he's interested to see what kind of response there will be to his menu.
Meanwhile next door, The Captain's Boil will open its fourth location in the Lower Mainland at 1479 Robson Street in the former location of Hapa Ramen (Hapa Izakaya's sister operation that opened in January 2016).
The chain, which also has locations in Ontario, Quebec, and Nova Scotia, has been expanding throughout the Lower Mainland since it opened its first location at 1226–8338 Capstan Way in Richmond in 2016.
The Toronto-based seafood restaurant, which integrates Cajun recipes with Asian spices, has since opened two more locations in Vancouver, at 3309 Kingsway and 3250 Cambie Street.
Diners are served shelled seafood, which they can break apart with tools and their hands.
The Robson Street location will be a few blocks away from the Holy Crab, located at 1588 Robson Street, which similarly offers a hands-on seafood experience.
The Georgia Straight is awaiting a response from The Captain's Boil for more details about the new Robson Street location.More