Larry Leith, founder of Tokyo Joe’s, answered the call. Through social media and e-mails (his name and email address are on every cup), the Stapleton neighborhood said they wanted the restaurant on their turf. “This area was very requested,” says Leith, who has 30 locations in Colorado, five in other states and 11 more on the way. “We’ve looked in this area, literally, for five years and never quite found the right project.” The neighborhood was ready, lining up at the door for their December 17 opening.
With giant, red oval light fixtures overhead, made by Tokyo Joe’s, the space is distinctive, continuing with their intention to give a distinctive look to each location. The company is big on architecture and design, with Leith saying they are equally known for their architecture as they are for their food. The newly built building gave them both the benefit and challenges of a corner location. “It had to read from all three sides and we wanted to make sure we were keeping with the theme of what’s going on around here,” Leith explains.
A former pro skier, Leith started Tokyo Joe’s 20 years ago, inspired by his coaches’ advice to eat healthy, focusing on a chicken and rice-based diet. “It was always about a healthy, clean place to eat that wasn’t ‘health food,’ where people could eat affordably all the time,” he says. Serving Japanese-oriented cuisine, everything is grilled or steamed without use of woks, deep fryers or microwaves.
Kate Eggleston, the general manager will be the face of the Northfield Stapleton restaurant. She has been with the company for more than 10 years, working her way up the ranks, serving on the opening team for all of the out-of-state locations. “Kate’s a rock star!” says Leith. “Northfield scored because they get to keep her.”
As part of the company’s “Joespitality” movement, a play on “hospitality,” the general managers will have a strong presence out on the floor, mingling and getting to know people who come in. “You’ll see me out in the dining room a lot,” says Eggleston.
Leith and Eggleston are excited to bring Tokyo Joe’s to Northfield. “We’ve been practicing this for 20 years,” says Leith. “We’ve evolved a lot but the concept is better than it’s ever been—that’s what happens with practice.”