Oki Japanese Steakhouse closes

Oki Japanese Steakhouse closes

Available for purchase as a full restaurant, or in pieces

NORTH PROVIDENCE - Oki Japanese Steakhouse, the local mainstay that marketed itself as "Rhode Island's original hibachi restaurant," has been placed in receivership and shut down.

The restaurant, located at 1270 Mineral Spring Ave., was famous for preparing food in front of its patrons.

It was not immediately clear why the business had to close, but the seemingly popular restaurant did face competition from the lower priced Asian restaurant Jacky's Galaxie, located just up the road. A new and expanded Jacky's is set to open soon on the same side of Mineral Spring Avenue as Oki's, continuing an ongoing transformation of the North Providence restaurant scene.

Social media was buzzing this week with talk about why Oki's closed, with several saying that other new Japanese restaurants offered tough competition.

Hiromi "Gerry" Ichiba is the owner and president of Oki Enterprises. It was not immediately clear when the restaurant first opened, but town officials believe it was at least 30 years ago.

Patricia Antonelli, partner in the Providence law firm of Partridge Snow & Hahn, has been appointed the temporary "neutral and impartial" receiver of Oki Enterprises' assets, according to court documents filed by Antonelli.

All business operations were terminated prior to the appointment of Antonelli as receiver, state the documents filed July 10. As receiver, Antonelli is responsible for selling the assets of Oki "for the highest value" and to "maximize recovery for creditors."

Antonelli told The Breeze that Ichiba placed his business into receivership on June 26, and she was appointed to oversee the form of bankruptcy on June 28. She is hoping to schedule an auction sometime before August, said Antonelli, and will be offering the business both as a "full entity" restaurant or "in pieces." Conceivably, she said, someone could buy it and continue operating it as it was. Anyone interested in purchasing all or part of Oki's is invited to call Antonelli through the receivership line of Partridge Snow & Hahn, at 401-553-8746. Leave a message.

"It is my intention to immediately market and sell the assets in their 'as is' condition within 60 to 90 days," wrote Antonelli in her notice to creditors.

According to Antonelli, there was no "earth shattering" reason why Ichiba decided on receivership, and there was no "creditor hanging over their heads." Ichiba was putting "a lot of his own money" into the business, she said, and just decided that the best option available was to get out and pay off his creditors.

Antonelli called the ongoing receivership process "an orderly" one that is without "animosity."

Preliminary findings show no secured debt for Oki, and no priority tax debt, but there is general unsecured debt of about $192,000.

A hearing on Antonelli continuing as Oki's "permanent receiver" is scheduled for this Friday, July 19, at 9:30 a.m. in Rhode Island Superior Court. Creditors and other interested parties are invited to attend, but are not required to do so.