Cheesecake Factory rumors persist as Sakura Goes Dark at Coddingtown

Artist's rendering of the new Coddingtown mall

Coddingtown sushi restaurant Sakura Japanese has shuttered after owners and mall management were unable to agree on a new location for the restaurant. Heavy construction and a debris bin near the northern exterior of the mall necessitated moving the Asian eatery, according to Kim Hall Simon Malls marketing director.  “Three locations within the mall were suggested, but a mutual agreement was made at the last minute that they would close,” said Hall. She said owners declined options to move their operation to the former Narsi’s Hof Brau or the LA Italian Kitchen location. She said Sakura owners had asked to take over the Fresh China space, which is currently occupied and not slated for relocation by mall owners.

Sakura served its last meal Sept. 29 and has removed most of its restaurant equipment from the space. Phone calls to the restaurant were no answered, but Hall said the owners still maintained a lease and had an option to return to the mall at a later date.

Rumors of why the restaurant closed however, immediately surfaced on Yelp, bringing up a longtime theory that the potential arrival of a Cheesecake Factory was a factor in the departure of several longtime restaurants. Though insiders have said that the popular chain restaurant has scouted Sonoma County, no deals have yet been brokered. Hall would not confirm or deny the rumor, but also didn’t completely close the door. “We are talking to a lot of people. We are going to have a lot of opportunity and there is a lot of interest. There will be other restaurants coming in, however, it is our policy not to say anything until a lease is signed.” Current speculation suggest that a  major chain restaurant the size of PF Changs or Cheesecake Factory could occupy the former Los Robles Lodge space. Hall stated that a large-scale restaurant opening at Coddingtown would depend on the company’s interest in the Sonoma County market and ability to expand. “Some just aren’t expanding right now,” she said.

It was announced in August that  BJ’s Restaurant and Brewhouse would begin construction in 2012, ultimately occupying 9,500 square feet and seating nearly 300. Coddingtown publicist Julia Rachlin said at the time that no current tenants were vacating the mall to make room for the restaurant.  “As far as BJ’s, the restaurant will mostly be new build and then the mall is shifting some space inside to accommodate part of the restaurant, but no current tenants will be leaving,”she said.

Hall stated that Sakura’s move was not necessitated by the BJ’s build which is slated to begin earlier than anticipated. “BJ’s is starting construction this year, and the timeline has been moved up,” Hall said.

PS: Cheesecake Factory was just voted America’s Favorite Casual Restaurant. See the Huff Post article

Author: biteclub

Food Dining and Restaurants in Sonoma County and beyond, BiteClubEats.com is Wine Country dining with Drive-Thru Sensibility.

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41 Comments

  1. “… the Fresh China space…[is] not slated for relocation by mall owners.” Of course not long after the article was written that’s exactly what they asked Fresh China to do. Need more chain restaurants to pretty up the outside…maybe a nice patio with a view of one of the FOUR check cashing/ payday advance shops within walking distance. Stay classy coddingtown.

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  2. You people are clueless about sushi. The only reason you people like that place is because they served American food disguised as sushi (cheap and fattening). Deep fried rolls is all people seem to freaking think sushi is. Ever try the fish at Sakura just as nigiri or sashimi? Or better yet, ever noticed how their sushi rice is god awful? No, probably not, because all that unagi sauce covered it up nice and well for you. Seriously, learn what sushi is, people, because it’s not the “I-love-to-pretend-to-love-sushi” roll.

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  3. The only reason I went to Coddingtown Mall is for Sakura’s. NO reason for me to return..

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  4. Coddingtown Mall is disgusting, i think that the cheesecake factory is too good to come there. shopping in Santa Rosa is terrible. I shop out of Santa Rosa where you get better service and I eat out of Santa Rosa too. clean uop[your act.

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    • There is one thing good at the Coddingtown mall. Whole Foods with what my family refers to as the “Daddy Day Care” area in the rear while they shop.

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  5. the Cheesecake Factory should come with free GYM membership. Ever look at the nutritional Facts and you will be astonished! So will your physican

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  6. My family and I were so bummed when we drove up and saw Sakura had closed. We don’t eat out often because I am a great cook and it saves our family a lot of money to eat at home so Sakura was our big treat. Always offered such warm customer service and awesome sushi. Crossing my fingers they reopen. I can eat at big chain restaurant any place and it was nice having Sakura close to home. Only reason I ever shopped in that mall. Now a good reason to not shop there at all. Nothing drawing me there. Bummer and too bad they couldn’t open a good store there instead of some chain restaurant. Yuck.

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    • …and shutterbug left and the toy store left and the cutlery store left and the uniform shop left and wolfe’s left and narsi’s “left”…..

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  7. Sakura was the ONLY reason I visited that dive of a mall. It’s now just something I pass on 101.

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  8. How about a Crate and Barrel or Nordstroms Rack? Container Store?

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  9. Can’t wait for a Cheesecake Factory…The fact is that both Narsi’s (good riddance) and Sakura (which I liked) were given options. They didn’t OWN the mall. And obviously, the same ol’ thing isn’t cutting it at Coddingtown unless you’re 112 years old. More variety the better to me. As stated above, there are many options for “locavores” so if you don’t like the idea of BJ’s or a Cheesecake Factory simply don’t eat there. I will.

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  10. In the case of Coddingtown, “out with the old and in with the new” is just what the mall needs. It does no good for the community to have a huge stagnating heap right in the middle of town. It is a mall, not a farmers market. How many local small businesses do you think anchor a mall? If you don’t have a desirable high profit spectrum of stores anchoring a mall than the few small local vendors are making no money. We have an abundance of excellent food in Sonoma County, the mall is not the one option in town for cuisine so if your tastes don’t lean toward Cheescake factory, good thing there are about a thousand other options out there for you:)

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  11. Many good memories at Sakura. Great prices and plentiful food. I guess that formula is doomed with the rising cost of food and costly regulation on all businesses in California. You only need look around, and another one bites the dust. I don’t fault the Coddingtown Mall, they have the same rising costs, and it’s happening all around. Big -Marie Calendars, or small – Sakura, it’s a tough go of it for business in California.

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  12. I think Simon is the easy target here and I wouldn’t forget that Codding Enterprises is still 50% owner of this mall. I grew up in SR and spent a lot of time in Coddingtown as a kid. My Dad preferred to take us there over the Plaza. In high school I got my first job at Wetzel’s Pretzels and even came back in between semesters at college to make some extra money. That was until Old Navy came in and took over the entire block. It was crummy for me but good for the mall and those were still pre-Simon days. I think they’re just trying to do what’s best for the mall and I don’t blame them; even when it put me out of a fun seasonal job.

    As for Sakura and Narsis, I also never dined at either. I went through Narsis with a friend once and wasn’t impressed. This is coming from someone who was a local at the time. I didn’t have anything against those eateries, I just didn’t have any interest in eating at their establishments. Although BJ’s isn’t the greatest restaurant, food speaking, I’d love to see a Cheesecake Factory. For a chain restaurant they do an outstanding job with food, atmosphere and service.

    I have family who live close to Coddingtown and the last thing I want to see is the mall continue to decline. Usually what happens as a result of that is crime starts to go up and things get bad in other ways. That would be far worse than seeing a national retailer or two show up, in my opinion. I’ll be ‘home’ for Thanksgiving and I can’t wait to see what the mall’s remodel looks like and I’m even more excited for new tenants. I hope Target continues to consider the former Gottschalks space and maybe Santa Rosa will even see the likes of DSW? I’ve got my fingers crossed :)

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  13. I ate Sushi there so much when I was pregnant with my son that they all knew me by site, all I had to do was walk through the door and out came the low sodum soy sauce. Its true if we dont support the local business we only have ourselves to blame for there closure.

    Im the person who wont go to wal mart and shop have done it in 16 years and Im doing just fine. We all get what we pay for. If you dont place value on the individual all we end up with is the same old thing with the same people running it

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  14. After living in Japan for 4 years we thought we’d never find a suitable sushi place… until Sakura. Best miso soup, generous portions of fresh fish, affordable prices and great service! Who wants cheesecake when you could have a tuna bomb?

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  15. Looking forward to when BJs opens up. They have tons of their own beers on tap, good food and a great family atmosphere. Hit their Elk Grove location every summer during baseball tourney.

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  16. Sakura you will be missed. Another poke in the side by the profit mongers.

    Why would you go to Coddingtown to eat or shop anyway? Whole paycheck is gross. Now bring in big box,
    really crummy food joint, lace that with a touch of no soul as a community shopping desitination and you have a recipe for little to no reason to go there. Well, Big 5 at least has shoes.

    Won’t be spending any time or dollars at any of the eateries. Just wrong, but there are bigger fish to fry in this current state of greed and abuse of power. Onward.

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  17. My wife and I are so disappointed to see Sakura have to leave. The owners are a very nice, hard working couple. The sushi was always good, maybe not the absolute best in the county, but the price was good and the service friendly. We will really miss those carburetors. I hope they can reopen somewhere out of the mall environment.

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  18. I would LOVE LOVE LOVE a pf chang’s!
    They are the only Chinese place with a designated gluten free menu, and there are so many Celiacs in Sonoma County!

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  19. Don’t blame Simon or large chains. Plain and simple is that fact that property values have the largest impact on local inflation than any other factor. Sonoma County has created a business environment that has left only large chains as contenders to do a profitable business while offering people the most bang for your buck. Sonoman County-victim of it’s own real estate success! Everyone seems to complain about chains and then complains about mom and pop not offering enough variety.

    I had a food business in Santa Rosa, sold it two years ago. Everyone came in expecting chain speed, consistency and a variety that small businesses can’t achieve.

    Want to complain about small businesses going under? Ask a small business owner about bond measure after bond measure-letter after letter from the city and county always asking for more money. Sakura is didn’t have money to relocate because they didn’t have the capital. Now a business that has been profitable for 20 should know the mall atmosphere and saved, but then again, maybe they didn’t make enough to save. Seriously though, as a small food business how much goes out to the county and city….you’ll be shocked

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  20. I am very sad about this. Many good memories of going with friends. At one point, I went there so much, I began to crave sushi whenever I heard Jazz music.

    Oh well, one less reason to go to Coddingtown.

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  21. We’ve been going to Sakura for over 20 years. Sure hope they are able to open somewhere else. Who wants to spend the money for overpriced others..they aren’t any better. Sakura was affordable and good and LOCAL. Simon strikes again. Another family put out of business.

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  22. all this fuss over Narsi’s and the other eaterys, all the years i have worked at Coddingtown Mall, i would see only a handfull of folks eating at these places, i ate a few times at Narsi’s, food was old, sitting under heat lamps too long, over priced. glad to see them gone, Coddingtown needs new places to eat, even a food court would be great. can’t wait for BJ’s, if Coddingtown didn’t make these big moves, the mall would be gone in no time. Change it Great

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  23. Shutterbug also left (was forced to leave?)

    very, very suddenly. I think something is going on,

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  24. Why is everyone against chain restaurants? I’m all for supporting local businesses but let’s face it Coddingtown is a $hithole. With BJ’s and maybe Cheesecake Factory moving in and Whole Foods, maybe this will bring in other businesses and rejuvenate this mall. Plus Sakara was average at best. If you want good sushi go to Osaka and Hana.

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    • I don’t see the Cheesecake Factory moving in to Coddingtown with a BJ’s there. Aren’t they essentially the same thing?

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      • I think they’re the same as far as ‘american’ fare goes but the atmosphere is pretty different. They recently remodeled a major shopping mall here in Seattle and it has a new BJ’s and Cheesecake Factory as well as several other large scale restaurants. They just need a customer base is all.

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    • Amen! I am so excited to have some much needed restaurant choices that are consistant & professional – out with old and in with the new! Cheesecake Factory and BJ’s have chain standards that “mom & pop” places lose sight of. I for one welcome the competition. As for PF Changs… YES PLEASE…Gary Chu’s needs a long awaited smack down, ego way too high (said in my best Asian accent). Seriously people Sakara?? Nice owners yes, but the food was over priced, inconsistent and the atmosphere SUCKED. Their loud tv’s and weird Hello Kitty, and Pokemon crap everywhere…atrocious and worst of all, they always had their lunches & dinners right in front of you. Sorry, but when I go out to eat I’d like my waitstaff to be attending to our table, not eating at their own. You wont see that at a Cheesecake Factory.

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  25. I much prefer to shop local, however it sounds like Sakura was trying to be greedy by asking for a site that is currently occupied. Coddingtown/Simon offered them other locations, and they turned them down. You really can’t blame the mall owners or the large restaurants for this one.

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    • they werent being greedy, they were told that they had to move to the old Narsi’s space if they wanted to stay in the mall but Simon Mall refused to offer to pay the cost of moving or renovation for the space and the owners do not have the money to pay for renovations, moving or anything else. As for the Fresh China space that was “Mentioned” if you will notice there is no comment from ten Owners of Sakura, only from Simon Malls rep. Simon does not and never will support local businesses as they are focused on big box chains only. Hugh is probably turning over in his grave to see what Simon Malls has done to his baby.

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  26. Me too. Won’t be going to BJ’s or Cheesecake Factory. Loved Narsi’s, loved Sakura.

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  27. I’m wondering why Narsi’s was forced out, if they are offering the location as a different restaurant? I thought it was because a giant chain was coming in and they needed the space, but from this report it seems that Simon was just being discriminatory in refusing to renew their lease.

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  28. Sad news today….My friends and I have enjoyed many meals at Sakura. It will be missed.

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  29. I am so sadden by this announcement. I have been going here for more than a decade. It’s my favorite Japanese restaurant and I know it’s the favorite of many of my friends.
    I sure hope they can find somewhere to reopen.

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    • I am so disgusted by the pushing out of the little guys…I will refuse to go to BJ’s and the Cheesecake factory. I’m just heart broken that Santa Rosa is turning into another Rohnert Park.

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  30. I thought that a Cheesecake Factory would be perfect in Rohnert Park where Latitude once was. Or, how about a California Pizza Kitchen in that location in Coddingtown?

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    • Neither a Cheesecake Factory nor a California Pizza Kitchen should ever, ever be referred to as “perfect” in any context.

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  31. Simon Group strikes again. Sakura was one of my favorite sushi stops. My wife and I have been
    going there for 20 years, hopefully Jon will find another spot soon. We love you guys.

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