New York City will soon lose most of its Ikinari Steak locations. Just two years after launching an ambitious Manhattan expansion plan, the Japanese chain best known for being a standing-only, quick-service steakhouse will close nine of its 11 outposts this year.
The chain’s parent company Pepper Food Service is shuttering the bulk of its local operations to focus on four remaining stores, a spokesperson says. One Ikinari location will remain in the East Village (the original) and one near Times Square, while two will be converted to locations of similar chain restaurant Pepper Lunch.
Midtown West and Chelsea locations of Ikinari will flip to Pepper Lunch, a similarly fast-casual steakhouse that hails from Tokyo — except Pepper Lunch will be a cook-it-yourself situation, according to the spokesperson. Both Pepper Lunch locations will open in the spring. See a full list of closings, remodels, and remaining locations below.
Pepper Lunch has 200 locations in more than 15 countries; its first U.S. outpost opened in Los Angeles last year, and another is slated for Houston. In LA, the menu includes steaks, seafood, pastas, and curry dishes, which diners cook on sizzling skillets.
Ikinari — which has a cult following in Japan — opened its first U.S. location with no seats in the East Village in 2017. It gained a favorable nod from Eater critic Robert Sietsema, who wrote that the steakhouse excelled in “condensing the excitement of perfect steaks into a shorter, more concentrated experience.” The chain soon began a huge expansion, plotting up to six additional locations that first year. It also eventually caved to American dining habits and added a few seats.
Last year, the parent company debuted on the Nasdaq stock exchange, but soon after, the chain reported slow sales. Ikinari founder Kunio Ichinose and stateside operator Takashi Tsuchiyama once hoped for at least 20 locations in Manhattan — but now, only two will remain.
- 205 Bleecker St.
- 295 Madison Ave.
- 1007 Lexington Ave.
- 2233 Broadway
- 455 Park Ave. South
- 96 Eighth Ave.
- 368 West 46th St.
Converting to Pepper Lunch:
- 243 West 54th St.
- 154 Seventh Ave.
- 90 East 10th St.
- 37 West 46th St.