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MF Sushibar to close after service tonight

Alex (left) and Chris Kinjo at MF Sushibar (AJC Staff)

Alex (left) and Chris Kinjo at MF Sushibar (AJC Staff)

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.

21 comments Add your comment

Bubb

November 9th, 2011
4:08 pm

First! commenter Last! sushi

Drew

November 9th, 2011
4:22 pm

11 years is a very respectable run for any restaurant. John, I still remember your first review you wrote “Thanks god, finally a real sushi restaurant in Atlanta”!!! Kudos to them for setting the standard for sushi in Atlanta.

Gigi

November 9th, 2011
4:37 pm

We used to live in that building (Camden Midtown) and Chris is right. The neighborhood is in a downward spiral. We left a few years ago and wondered how long MF would stay. We now happily drive over to the Buckhead location.

Lorenzo

November 9th, 2011
4:57 pm

Midtown residents will miss this fine restaurant. When MF opened and I was a new arrival in Atlanta, I had hoped it was a sign of urban renewal in what seemed like a blighted area. But that stretch of Ponce never has taken off.

alex kinjo

November 9th, 2011
5:26 pm

Chaotic create an opportunity. MF “Moving Forward”
AK.

fishmonger

November 9th, 2011
9:43 pm

Such a bummer. The prices at MF Buckhead are ridiculously high. It’s almost impossible to dine there on a regular basis and I’m a 1 percenter! I guess I will stick to Starfish Sushi. Best fish combined with best deal left…

David

November 10th, 2011
7:29 am

Sad to see this one go as I also was with Nam. I am happy the Buckhead one is staying. I wish they would combine the best of MF and Nam at this location so we can enjoy

Roya

November 10th, 2011
8:06 am

I agree with Drew. John Kesslers’ review was the reason I started eating at MF Sushi bar, and from that moment, I was hooked. My description of their Sushi was one sentence, “it melts in your mouth”. I have been fan from day one and I have had the privilege of introducing MF Sushi bar to may of my friends and colleagues who will be shocked by this news.
I am sad to see it closing, even though they are just consolidating. MF Buckhead doesn’t have the sushi rolls made at the MF Sushi bar. I am hoping the “consolidation” includes the menus as well.
Thanks for 11 years of divine sushi.

Roya

Atlantan

November 10th, 2011
10:32 am

I wish they’d reopen Nam somewhere in town.

Wino

November 10th, 2011
12:29 pm

Soto was better and opened first, so not sure how MF brought great sushi to Atlanta. Still, I had many great meals at MF and will miss them intown.

MaggieMoo

November 10th, 2011
4:07 pm

It is sad to have a business fail, but the timing of the poor economy and a high-end restaurant, coupled with the owners near bankruptcy, probably had more to do with the closing of MF then the neighborhood, which by the way is doing just fine!
He had no reason to claim blame the neighborhood, who supported him for 11 years, as the reason for his failure.

FMFats

November 10th, 2011
4:17 pm

Why do I find “There will always be an MF in Atlanta” funny somehow?

Bugs

November 10th, 2011
4:19 pm

Huh? At worst I would say the neighborhood is no worse than it was 11 years ago. It never took off like the condo developers promised, but there’s certainly less hookers around than there was 11 years ago. Sure the Spaghetti (or was it Cheesecake) Factory bit the dust, but Top Flr is packed every night. I’d say his problem was that when he opened there was nowhere to get sushi anywhere to the south of Harry and Sons and now people have options.

Realist

November 10th, 2011
5:03 pm

They have the best sushi in town, but in their buckhead location they have some of the highest overhead in town. If the Ponce location couldn’t make it, I don’t know how the other one will…

Scott

November 10th, 2011
11:41 pm

Sad to see it go. The Buckhead location isn’t nearly as good and is over priced.

Midtowner

November 11th, 2011
12:49 am

Not surprised to see MF people leave. As I write this, there are 3 transvestite prostitutes outside my condo window. I went to court two weeks ago and with my testimony the judge put one of them in jail for two months for making terroristic threats. I have lived two blocks away from MF for over ten years and it is definitely no better, and even worse than ever down here. Guests at the restaurant where I work (just down the street) have had cars broken into and been assaulted. Am trying to move somewhere away from this battle zone….

true story

November 11th, 2011
2:05 pm

THEY HAVE NO ETHICS OR VALUES.

Jack Jackson

November 11th, 2011
3:12 pm

Hahahaha

“He is currently scouting sites in the SoHo neighborhood of Manhattan and in Miami for his next restaurants”

Cool story Bro…………..

CLATL01

November 13th, 2011
11:31 pm

Too bad but understandable because it’s hard to run a restaurant with drug dealers and other misfits running around. His food was good when I had it, and I think I’ll go drop into the Buckhead location. They can turn that area around and it can be a winner, it’s close to a lot of downtown clients that would spend plenty on a good meal.

ArgonneAve

November 16th, 2011
12:35 am

Good grief we live in a city Midtowner, not the rural midwest. A bit of riff raff & flavor comes with the territory. This area is 10X more stable & safe than most trendy intown neighborhoods like East Atlanta, Kirkwood, Old Forth Ward, Cabbagetown and so on. I love this neighborhood…have lived here 8 years and do not plan on moving any time soon. The problem seems to be the owners personal financial woes and a lot more competition.

Steve

November 16th, 2011
11:56 am

MF Buckhead filed a Chapter 11 petition on Nov. 14 according to @GA_Bankruptcy.