Shinobi Sushi manager, NK Choi, was shocked to hear of the fire which badly damaged the popular Japanese eatery. (Ronan O’Doherty/ THE NEWS)

Popular Maple Ridge sushi restaurant will be closed for at least six months after fire

Shinobi Sushi has been planning on opening a second location, which should be ready by end of year

Shinobi Sushi’s manager said the fire that badly damaged the popular Japanese resataurant last Friday came as quite a surprise.

“I couldn’t believe it,” NK Choi said.

“I got a phone call from my boss around 4:30 in the morning on Friday, and arrived here ten minutes later.”

The manager, who has been working at Shinobi for nine years, said there were six fire trucks surrounding the restaurant and his initial reaction was to prepare for the worst.

“But after looking at it, I thought, maybe it’s just a small fire in the back. It might be fine,” he said.

Choi said he prayed that was the case, however after the fire was put out, and he had a chance to look up close, he knew the damage was severe.

Much of the kitchen has been destroyed, and Choi said smoke has covered every surface of the restaurant with soot.

Maple Ridge Fire and Rescue deputy chief Michael Van Dop said the investigation on the cause of the blaze is still ongoing.

”It’s still not 100 per cent wrapped up, but it’s leaning towards an undetermined cause,” he said.

“I’m confident that it was nothing to do with the restaurant processes that lead to the fire and it looked like it was an exterior fire that got into the building.”

READ MORE: Popular Maple Ridge Japanese Restaurant still closed after fire Friday

A fire never comes at a great time, but the timing on this one has been difficult for Shinobi. Like most restaurants, it had suffered quite a downturn in business during the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Choi said they were just starting to make up for the the bad months when the disaster occurred.

“June was OK, and in July we started booming,” he said.

“It was great; everyone likes us, so we did well.”

The start of August was strong, but the fire has charred any hope of making up for lost business at the beginning of the year.

Fans of the Japanese restaurant, located in Maple Ridge’s downtown core on 224th Street, took to their Facebook page to express their condolences.

A post by the restaurant written shortly after the fire had 57 comments, and was shared 79 times.

Dear customer

We have sad story to tell you about Shinobi. This morning around 4:30am we have a big unknown fire at…

Posted by Shinobi Sushi on Friday, August 14, 2020

Those fans might have to wait quite a while to sit in their favourite seat and enjoy some tasty sashimi.

Choi said it will probably be over six months before they are able to open the doors to customers again.

As chance would have it, however, Shinobi has been planning to open a second location on Dewdney Trunk Rd. and 240th.

“We’ve finished the paper work on it, so we’re hoping to get it ready soon,” NK Choi said.

“I promise our customers that the new location should be open by the end of this year.”

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