Miyuki Restaurant owner Chris Ishikawa
Miyuki Restaurant owner Chris Ishikawa is looking for someone to buy the business, which is located on East Lake Avenue in Watsonville. Photo: Juan Reyes/The Pajaronian

Chris Ishikawa took over as owner at Miyuki Japanese Restaurant in 2016 after starting off as a busboy and a server, before making his way behind the sushi bar where he and the kitchen staff continue to make what most consider the best sushi in town. 

But after more than 20 years in the restaurant industry, the 38-year-old said it’s time for him to hang up the apron and head off into the road to retirement. He announced in March that the business—which first opened in 1982—is currently on the market.  

“It’s a good time to sell,” he said. “I feel like the business is doing better than it’s ever been before.”

The business at 452 East Lake Ave. is listed for $375,000 on the MLSListings website and is handled by Atlas Premier Properties agent Robert Fernandez.

Miyuki is inside a 1,133-square-foot building that sits on an 8,059-square-foot lot with six available parking spaces, according to MLS Listings. The restaurant has been on the market for the past 205 days as of May 4. 

Ishikawa emphasized he’d like for the new owner to keep the staff, which for some have been working at the restaurant for at least 30 years. 

“The new owner has to appreciate the good staff,” he said.

Ishikawa said he wrote into the contract that once the business is sold he’s going to help run things for a couple of months at no charge. Then if the new owners decide they want to keep him around as an employee, he’ll continue to stay busy in the kitchen or wherever it may be.

“I’m not gonna just disappear,” he said.

As several local businesses took a big hit during the Covid-19 pandemic, Ishikawa managed to keep Miyuki open. He stayed busy with takeout orders, which still make up almost half of the business today. 

“Takeouts are still crazy,” he said. 

Prior to taking over the restaurant, Ishikawa was already busy in the kitchen. It wasn’t until he took control of the business when he realized it was a true 24/7 grind.

“You’re always working, even when you’re not, you always are,” he said. “I’m still going to San Jose and picking up stuff. If you don’t have people doing that, you gotta do it yourself.” 

That’s when the Covid-19 pandemic threw a wrench into his business as supplies were difficult to obtain and it’s the reason prices skyrocketed.

Ingredients such as produce and meats became more expensive, as well. 

“But it’s everybody, it’s not just us,” Ishikawa said.

Ishikawa hasn’t had to raise prices on the menu just yet but he’s in the process of doing so in the near future. 

Still, he’s confident the business is thriving and it’s a turnkey, especially after having invested money to upgrade everything inside and outside of the restaurant along with kitchen equipment. 

Ishikawa noted they have had lifelong customers since Miyuki opened 41 years ago, and he doesn’t believe a new owner would come in to spend money just to mix things around.

“The whole point of it is to stay the same,” he said. “We’ve had the same staff for a million years.”

Here’s hoping for another million years. 

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A Watsonville native who has a passion for local sports and loves his community. A Watsonville High, Cabrillo College, San Jose State University and UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism alumnus, he primarily covers high school athletics, Cabrillo College athletics, various youth sports in the Pajaro Valley and the Santa Cruz Warriors. Juan is also a video game enthusiast, part-time chef (at home), explorer and a sports junkie. Coaches and athletic directors are encouraged to report scores HERE.


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