THE owner of an acclaimed Japanese restaurant in Orange is planning to open a second venue in Bathurst - though the choice of location might be a surprise.
John Lee, who also owns Raku Izakaya on Summer Street in Orange, has lodged plans with Bathurst Regional Council to open a Japanese restaurant in Bathurst, but well away from the centre of town.
The plans propose converting an empty premises at the Westpoint Shopping Centre into a 58-seat restaurant, including 48 seats inside and 10 outside.
Mr Lee plans to call the restaurant Kisuya, which he said roughly translated as a place to happily enjoy a drink and dining.
He said the Bathurst restaurant would be a more casual eatery than his highly-regarded Orange venue which has been rated one of that city's best dining experiences.
Mr Lee said he started looking for somewhere to open a Bathurst restaurant within months of opening in Orange in 2018 but a year-long search turned up nothing suitable in the CBD.
There are many people living near the centre who go there for shopping but there is no restaurant to sit down and eat.John Lee, owner of Raku Izakaya on Summer Street in Orange, on his new shop in Bathurst
That was when he turned his thoughts to opening a restaurant in the suburbs at Westpoint.
"We had many customers from Bathurst who were asking if we would open there and I had been waiting for somewhere to set up a new restaurant in the [Bathurst] city centre but I could not find anywhere," he said.
"Then Westpoint offered good conditions for us to open there which I think will be good because there's nothing like it there.
"There are many people living near the centre who go there for shopping but there is no restaurant to sit down and eat."
Mr Lee said he hoped to open his new restaurant in March or April, pending council approval, and would be looking to employ around 10 local people to work as wait and kitchen staff.
He will also be looking for an experience chef to run the kitchen.
The restaurant will open in an empty shopfront next to the Domino's pizza outlet at Westpoint.
Mr Lee said COVID had hit not longer after he opened his Orange restaurant but crowds had returned strongly following the easing of restrictions.
The Orange restaurant is currently doing two nightly sittings to meet demand, from 5.30pm to 7.30pm and 8pm to 10pm.
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