Oki Steakhouse appears set to make a comeback

Oki Steakhouse appears set to make a comeback

NORTH PROVIDENCE - Oki Japanese Steakhouse, a fixture on Mineral Spring Avenue for three decades before it closed down in July, may soon reopen under new ownership.

The North Providence Town Council last week postponed a vote on a liquor license transfer for the new owner of Oki's after the person guiding the former restaurant through a bankruptcy-like receivership process, Patricia Antonelli, requested a delay of a public hearing on the transfer.

Town Council President Kristen Catanzaro said some issues arose between the purchaser and the receiver regarding the transfer of the Class BV liquor license due to some state tax issues, so those behind the restaurant will likely now look for a new liquor license at the January Town Council meeting.

Hiromi "Gerry" Ichiba was the owner and president of Oki Enterprises when it went into receivership over the summer, but Yukio Oki is the name on the application from the new "Oki Japanese Steakhouse Inc."

Both the old business entity and the new one have a "doing business as" name of Oki Japanese Steakhouse, according to Town Clerk Maryann DeAngelus.

With Oki on the application for a liquor license are Salvatore and Marie Esposito, owners of the building at 1270 Mineral Spring Ave. where Oki's once operated. The Espositos, who are friends of Mayor Charles Lombardi, ran the former vehicle identification number inspection station in town before it was shut down.

Yukio Oki, of Lincoln, is the original owner of Oki Steakhouse, according to Lombardi, and he at one point sold the business to Ichiba.

Lombardi said Monday that Oki and the Espositos have been completing extensive renovations of the Oki's facility as they prepare to reopen it.

"I'm happy about that," said Lombardi. "That place was amazing. I'm hoping they get it opened so we can get them back in action."

Neither Oki or the Espositos could be reached for comment this week.

Antonelli told The Breeze Monday that the Espositos purchased all the "stuff," or inventory and assets of the old restaurant, including the business name, for $10,500. Because the restaurant was shut down before Ichiba filed for receivership, she said, the business itself was neither in receivership or up for sale.

The only task left for her to complete as part of the receivership process is to file a final report, said Antonelli.

Antonelli, partner in the Providence law firm of Partridge Snow & Hahn, was appointed in July as "neutral and impartial receiver" for "Rhode Island's original hibachi restaurant."

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 over the summer, and decided that the best option available was to get out and pay off his creditors.