Two local entrepreneurs opening Mexican, Japanese restaurants in College Hill


The College Hill Community Urban Redevelopment Corporation sees College Hill as “an urban, comfortable and livable community,” which is why the nonprofit is working with partners to amplify the neighborhood’s image and expand its already thriving business community.

Kiki and Tortilleria Garcia will join College Hill’s central business district next year at 5932 and 5917 Hamilton Ave., respectively. Kiki will utilize the space in the former National City Building, and Tortilleria Garcia will inhabit what was once the Doll House Property, for which CHCURC received a $35,000 grant for architectural and engineering drawings for renovation.

“CHCURC is really doing some amazing things in the community,” says Hideki Harada, who is working with his wife Yuko to open Kiki. Harada has been the chef at Kaze in Over-the-Rhine since it opened.

The two met while attending culinary school in Japan. “It’s been a dream of ours to open a business together and create something genuine and creative,” Harada says. “Kiki was my nickname from grade school through high school, and it reminds me of the fun, rebellious and tough years growing up.”

It’s a description that exemplifies what Harada says the restaurant will embody.

The concept: a Japanese bar, or “izakaya.” Expect décor to include wood furniture and denim, while the menu will feature Ramen and other Japanese dishes. With seating for 65, enough flexibility will be offered to allow Harada to keep the menu new and fresh. Tentative plans include one sushi night per week.

The restaurant will be within close proximity to hiss home, which Harada says makes opening a business in College Hill even more special, as he knows the amount of support offered to new businesses there.

For Omar Garcia, owner of Tortilleria Garcia, sentiments are similar, as he is also a College Hill resident.

Tortilleria Garcia currently operates in a location on Springfield Pike, and it will continue to do so, but will have the opportunity to grow with the opening of a second location.

Known for its tortilla machine, which allows patrons to watch as their food is made, Tortilleria Garcia offers classic and authentic Mexican fare.

The College Hill location will offer the same concept; however, Garcia says there will be more items on the menu, and will feature a large dine-in area and patio.

With recipes passed down to him from his mother and grandmother — with whom he grew corn with on his family farm in Mexico prior to his arrival in the U.S. — Garcia is achieving his dream of passing on his heritage and food-related traditions to others. Now he has the opportunity to do it in his own neighborhood.

Expect Kiki and Tortilleria Garcia to both open in spring 2018.
 

Read more articles by Brittany York.

Brittany York is a freelance writer, adjunct English composition instructor and server at Orchids at Palm Court. She loves travel and photography. Keep up with Brittany on Instagram @brittbrittbrittbrittany.
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