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Saskatoon Japanese restaurant closing its doors after decades of service

Saskatoon Japanese restaurant closing its doors after decades of service
WATCH: The well-known Samurai Japanese restaurant is closing its doors at the end of the year.

Vi Huynh says he always looks forward to interacting with guests.

Huynh has been the head chef at the downtown Saskatoon Japanese establishment since 1993.

But, at the end of the year, he will cook his last meal at the Samurai restaurant. The restaurant is closing its doors after 40 years of service to the Bridge City.

“We knew it would happen sooner than later,” said Huynh. “Lots of restaurants were closing, we were the last one standing. I expected it and so did the staff.”

It’s part of $20 million renovations the Delta Bessborough hotel has planned.

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Bessborough general manager Jason Clark says the restaurant will be open for the majority of the day and will serve a greater audience with its menu.

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“It’s actually part of a bigger decision-making process,” Clark said. “While the Samurai has been a favourite for 40 years, it didn’t necessarily fit the design motif of what we are moving forward.”

Huynh has been the head chef for 26 years and says the style of cooking has allowed him and his staff to create lasting bonds with their guests.

“Customers (of) the Samurai are from all over the world,” he said. “I probably have friends in every single country. I’ll miss that the most and working with the staff. We’ve been working together for a number of years.”

Huynh says he knows the city will miss the restaurant. Since the announcement was made in early November, the restaurant has been almost fully booked for the rest of the year.

“We’ve never felt so much support from the city”

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Huynh is welcoming the change.

“I’m excited for the change. It’s time for a life out of the hotel now, it’s time for a new clientele.”

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He says most of the staff have options to stay with the Bessborough in some capacity.

However, a current employee at the restaurant told Global News that those details have been discussed but nothing has been finalized.

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As for Huynh, he said he may travel before finding a new chef’s hat.

The restaurant will close its doors on Jan. 1, 2020.