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San Benito
February 27, 2024

Inaka adds Japanese flavors, excitement, to the San Juan scene

The new Japanese restaurant in San Juan Bautista has locals talking and lining up for something new in the Mission City.

Inaka Japanese Restaurant opened to much local fanfare two weeks ago. Co-owner Janet Sakaguchi spoke to San Benito Live on opening day, while the restaurant had to temporarily close after its first few days when one of the family members had a medical emergency.

It’s back open again, and Sakaguchi and family are happy to be running the business on Third Street at the old Happy Rooster location.  

She’s particularly pleased to experience the business with her husband and two of her sons that are running the business together.

“Not too many people can say at my age, I can enjoy my family again,” Sakaguchi said of the business venture.

The family ran the Miyuki Japanese restaurant in Watsonville for four decades but sold it to a nephew a few years back around the time the Sakaguchis moved to San Juan Bautista, expecting to retire. They’d been going to the same few restaurants in town each week when one of her sons who lives here jokingly said, “Well, mom, you need to open one up,” she recalled.

That thought became a reality in the last year or so. Things quickly progressed a few months ago after the Happy Rooster spot became vacant. The family renovated the location and had it ready for a soft opening March 13 with her husband, formerly a chef in Japan, heading up the cooking side of things.

“Soft,” in this case, is an understatement in a town where word of mouth carries serious weight. The restaurant was packed that first day and weekend, while the Sakaguchis hadn’t yet opened one side of the business for seating. That other side has since opened and allows more patrons at once.

“They were so welcoming to us,” she said about the reception. “We are very, very, very happy.”

Inaka is at 313 Third St. in San Juan Bautista.