Bethany Clough

This Bay Area franchise opened a restaurant in Fresno. Two years later, it appears closed

KoJa Kitchen fuses Korean and Japanese fare

KoJa Kitchen co-owner Tom Lai and project manager Tommy Nguyen describe the vision of their Korean and Japanese fusion restaurant. The franchise is rapidly expanding and getting lots of attention in Fresno.
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KoJa Kitchen co-owner Tom Lai and project manager Tommy Nguyen describe the vision of their Korean and Japanese fusion restaurant. The franchise is rapidly expanding and getting lots of attention in Fresno.

KoJa Kitchen, the north Fresno Korean and Japanese fast food restaurant, appears to be closed.

The restaurant is next to Eureka! restaurant in the Park Place shopping center at Palm and Nees avenues.

KoJa (short for Korean-Japanese) opened in January 2017. It immediately caught the attention of Fresnans with its burger-like buns made from garlic rice pressed into bun shapes and fried so they are crispy on the outside.

Its kamikaze fries drenched in Korean barbecued beef, kimchi and other toppings were also popular.

The restaurant was flooded with customers when it first opened.

But now a sign on the door says “To our Koja Kitchen customers: Beginning Monday 4/15/2019, our Fresno location will be temporarily closed until further notice.”

But the shopping center is looking for a new renter for that space, said property manager Kelly Garrison.

“They are behind on their rent,” she said.

She has not heard of any plans to move or reopen, she added.

The restaurant’s phone is disconnected and the owner did not return a phone message seeking comment. Emails to the restaurant and the company were not returned. The Fresno restaurant is no longer listed on the KoJa website.

KoJa started as a food truck in San Francisco in 2011 and opened its first restaurant in Berkeley in 2014.

The Fresno location was a franchise, owned by a man from the Bay Area who moved here to open the restaurant.

KoJa now has 13 locations in and around the Bay Area, and one in Southern California.

The shopping center, whose Gb3 attracts a steady stream of people, has a few other large vacancies. The Daily Grill closed in late 2017 and nearby Ginza Asian Bistro is also closed.

Bethany Clough covers restaurants and retail for The Fresno Bee. A reporter for 20 years, she now works to answer readers’ questions about business openings, closings and other business news. She has a degree in journalism from Syracuse University and her last name is pronounced Cluff.
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