Ken Harrison 12:06 p.m., May 29
Kamikaze 7 crashing into Gaslamp
Restaurateur/TV personality opening nightlife-driven downtown sushi spot
Kevin Roberts. That name rang a bell when someone brought it up late last week. Then it hit me, a memory flash transporting me back to 2008 when a local restaurateur of the same name appeared on Food Network’s reality competition Next Food Network Star and competed in a handful of challenges, only to find his way out in the early rounds of the competition. He didn’t make the director’s cut there (though he did host a TLC show called BBQ Pitmasters and just shot a pilot for The Discovery Channel), but as the man behind the nightlife-geared Tavern+Bowl chain of alleys—East Village Tavern, Eastlake Tavern & Bowl, North County Tavern & Bowl—he’s done just fine beyond his 15 minutes of fame. And that's not even counting his gigs as consulting chef to the New York Yankees.
Now, Roberts is close to bringing another venture to life. This time, it’s a sushi restaurant called Kamikaze 7, which is slated to open at 411 Market Street in the Gaslamp Quarter this March. That space was formerly occupied by Shorelines Gallery, meaning repurposing will be in order to get it up to code and ship-shape for restaurant use. That process is underway under the oversight of Jaime Partners, whose clients include the Enlightened Hospitality Group restaurants—Searsucker, Burlap, Gingham, Gabardine, and Herringbone—as well as Cinepolis Luxury Cinemas.
K7 is being designed to double as a DJ-equipped evening spot for cool kids and a place where sushi seekers can get their fix. In order to do that, Roberts is employing as much edginess and playfulness (think samurai sword chandeliers) as he is freshly dispatched sea life and Kobe beef (he'll have the real stuff). Smartly, he’s also leading with alcohol, offering 15 different types of sake bombs and Japanese whiskey.
Roberts is a national spokesperson for Yuengling Beer, but since they don’t distribute to California, we’re more than likely to see local craft beer and every sushi joint’s Japanese beer standbys sharing space behind the bar with all that sake. Of course, he also reps Frank’s RedHot, which as any trip to the grocery store will tell you, is plenty available in these parts. Could an orange American condiment find its way into the fold with green Japanese horseradish? Let's hope not.