MF Sushibar, the landmark Atlanta sushi restaurant, will close after service tonight, owner Chris Kinjo says.
“Our lease is coming up, and I’ve decided to consolidate my team,” said Kinjo, saying that he planned to move the staff to MF Buckhead, the glamorous and much larger spinoff of the original restaurant.
Kinjo cited high vacancies and deterioration of the area surrounding MF Sushibar’s location on Ponce de Leon Ave. as part of his decision to leave. “The whole area is getting worse every day. It seems like everyone else around me has already left.”
When MF Sushibar opened 11 years ago, it was greeted with great enthusiasm by area sushi lovers. (”MF,” they soon learned, stood for Chris’ “magic fingers” as he quickly assembled the morsels of fish and rice.) The restaurant broke from the mold in deciding to serve only sushi and no hot kitchen fare. In fact, there is no kitchen at the restaurant. Much of the fish was flown in from Japan, and the Kinjos helped popularize such varieties as goldeneye snapper, horse mackerel and young yellowtail locally.
Kinjo said that the closing of the restaurant has been in the works for months, and he denied online rumors that unpaid back taxes were to blame. He is currently scouting sites in the SoHo neighborhood of Manhattan and in Miami for his next restaurants, but he says Atlanta will remain his home base.
“No matter what happens, there will always be an MF in Atlanta.