Bar Chuko, the izakaya spin-off of popular Prospect Heights ramen-ya Chuko, will be closing later this month, owner Jamison Blankenship says. The two-year-old Japanese bar food and small plates restaurant didn't attract the audience it needed to survive, he says. "I really thought the space was great, the food was great, everything we were doing was great," he says. "It just never hit the numbers that we needed." Its last day will be June 25.
But the end of Bar Chuko means good news for fans of Chuko Ramen, which has been in an old space across the street since 2011. The hit ramen spot will be moving into the Bar Chuko space later this summer, Blankenship says — a change that will add 20 seats, credit card payments, more hours, and delivery service. The original Chuko Ramen space was built on a "shoestring budget" and needs an upgrade, he says. Since the lease for that 552 Vanderbilt Ave. space is ending anyway, Blankenship decided the best thing to do would be to move the ramen-ya across the street.
"It’s basically falling apart. All of our equipment is finally coming to an end," he says of the original ramen space. "Everyone is very excited. It’s sad for Bar Chuko, but everyone at Chuko Ramen is excited to be in a grown up space." Chuko Ramen will be closing for one week at the end of July and will reopen in the Bar Chuko space, at 565 Vanderbilt Ave., at the beginning of August. Though Bar Chuko's grill will be gone, some of the other items from the menu — like fresh tofu — may eventually make an appearance at Chuko.
Meanwhile, Blankenship is getting closer to opening the Chuko Ramen location in Bushwick, a project he started working on two years ago. They've completely finished building out the restaurant at 144 Evergreen Ave. but have been dealing with a variety of issues with the Department of Buildings since then, he says. After the staff settles into their new space this summer, they'll put their energy into finally opening the Bushwick location in the fall. "We're hoping we're close," he says.