Pandemic claims another restaurant casualty

After 13 years of flashy, fiery cooking in Northeast Rochester, Jenpachi Japanese Steak House has closed .

Heard Around Rochester - Jeff Kiger.png
We are part of The Trust Project.

The pandemic has claimed another Rochester restaurant as a casualty.

On Saturday, the Jenpachi Japanese Steak House ceased operations.

The restaurant at 3160 Wellner Drive NE had hung on by offering some takeout and delivery, but owner Charlie Zhao told his delivery service, Waiters Express , that he couldn’t keep it open any more. Zhao was not available to discuss the closing.

Zhao opened the Japanese steak house 17 years ago. The eatery featured fiery cooking exhibitions at special grills surrounded by diners. It was an early attraction for the then-new West Century Plaza, which also houses Whistle Binkies Olde World Pub.

When it opened in October 2003 , Jenpachi had seating for 80 customers. It employed a staff of 15. That included skilled cooks, who provided running banter with customers as they made flashy cooking moves on a hot grill.


Jeff Kiger tracks business action in Rochester and southeastern Minnesota every day in Heard on the Street. Send tips to or via Twitter to @whereskiger . You can call him at 507-285-7798.

EMBED: Jeff Pieters 'Sunrise Rochester' newsletter signup

The Jenpachi Japanese Steak House
The Jenpachi Japanese Steak House at 3160 Wellner Drive NE in Rochester has fired up its grills once again, months after it closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

What to read next
The Stencil Group, led by CEO and owner Nathan Stencil, is proposing to build a six story, 112 unit apartment complex at 29 Sixth St. NE on land covering multiple parcels along Seventh Street Northeast and Sixth Street Northeast. That is in the shadow of the Rochester’s Silver Lake Power Plant.
New episodes are published weekly on Fridays.
A financial report for the second quarter states that Mayo Clinic generated $4 billion in operating revenue for the quarter and a total of $7.9 billion for the first two quarters of 2022 combined.
With many changes to the city's drinking scene over the last five years, the question to ponder is whether Rochester is now a brewery town or still a bar town. What do you think? Answer our poll in the story.