After starting a local dynasty and hosting special occasions for more than 30 years, the North Naples location of DaRuMa Japanese Steak House & Sushi Bar will permanently close Sunday.
The original DaRuMawill be demolished this year as part of the redevelopment project for One Naples, a mixed-use venture by Stock Development that will be built on 6 acres on the northeast corner of Vanderbilt Beach Road and Gulf Shore Drive. DaRuMa’s0.78-acre parcel at 241 Center St. will become a passive park and common area for the future residents of One Naples’condominium towers.
Recently, DaRuMa has been nearly hidden from view off Vanderbilt Beach Road behind piles of concrete pipes and drains and construction trailers for One Naples. Stock Development purchased the property late last year from DaRuMa owner Lin Huei-Yi Chang for $10 million but the local restaurant was permitted to remain operating until September for a final season.
Since November 1987, the Changs had owned the property and a 4,600-square-foot structure built in 1972 that previously was Ferrara’s Restaurant. They opened their first DaRuMa there in 1989.
Hsin-Ting Chang and his family migrated to Naples in 1980 from Taipei, Taiwan, where he ran a chain of Korean and Japanese restaurants. The family patriarch died Oct. 17 at the age of 81. His son, Tony Chang, operates the local restaurant now.
This original DaRuMa restaurant in Naples spun off another location at Bell Tower Shops in south Fort Myers and two more in Sarasota. The other three locations will continue to operate.
Upon selling DaRuMa in North Naples, the Changs’ intentions were to find another location in the Naples area for DaRuMa but that search has not been successful yet, said General Manager Cathy Kies. “I wish there was good news but nothing yet,” she said. “They still are looking.”
Until a new location is found, DaRuMa’s hibachi grill tables and chairs are being put into storage, said Keis, who has worked at the popular local restaurant for 23 years. A native of the Philippines, Keis said she will miss the restaurant’s nearly 40 employees, most of whom are of Asian descent. “This is like my first house. I spend more time here than my own house,” she said.
After a brief break, Keis plans to start looking for another hospitality job soon. She said it’s too far for her to commute to one of the other locations of DaRuMa from her North Naples home.
DaRuMa in Naples will serve its last dinner guests from 5 to 10 p.m. nightly through Sunday. Construction will start soon on One Naples, a resort-style community of two 12-story towers with 10 stories each of residential units, plus another three mid-rise residential buildings with five residential stories each for a total of 128 luxury residences and penthouses near Vanderbilt Beach.