The re-opening of Rochester’s Jenpachi Japanese Steak House is good news for fans of its popular lobster sauce, steaks and sushi, but don’t expect the new owner to sing "Happy Birthday" in Japanese.
Jenpachi, at 3160 Wellner Drive NE, re-opened for take-out and delivery this weekend, about five months after the original owner, Charlie Zhao, reluctantly closed the doors. Zhao opened the restaurant in 2003.
A Rochester businesses owner made the push to bring his favorite restaurant back to life for the staff and the community.
Greg Zoller, the owner of Zoller Brothers Irrigation in Rochester, readily says that he isn’t a cook or an experienced restaurateur. However, he is a very big fan of Jenpachi’s food. He and his wife ate there on at least a weekly basis for years.
Soon after the closure, Zoller reached out to Zhao and asked what could be done to re-open the restaurant. A few months later, Zoller became the owner of the restaurant known for its fiery at-the-table cooking.
“I thought Rochester deserved to have this restaurant open again,” he said.
He reached out to the restaurant’s six former chefs and was able to put three of them back to work in the Wellner Drive eatery.
“I literally took over for Charlie. Everything is literally the same. The menu is the same. The chefs are the same. The restaurant is the same. The lobster sauce that everyone loves is the same,” Zoller said. “The only thing different is that I won’t come out and sing ‘Happy Birthday’ in Japanese, like Charlie did.”