Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Yoki, a Japanese restaurant, outlived its expected partner in Central Square, Floating Rock restaurant. (Photo: Marc Levy)

Central Square’s Floating Rock restaurant opened, struggled and closed in a few short months, and its failed fallback plan — merging with a Japanese restaurant called Yoki — looks to outlive it. Floating Rock, a Cambodian restaurant, closed in late February, but a sign for employment at Yoki is up now at the same site, 485 Massachusetts Ave.

“The Commonwealth has weathered the recent recession better than many other areas, yet the economy has nevertheless been a factor in the Floating Rock’s difficulty in establishing itself on firm economic footing, and this has necessitated their looking to partner with Yoki Japanese Cuisine and Sushi, to bolster their business,” city councillor Denise Simmons said Feb. 13 in a policy order seeking to save the business:

Just Mass LLC, the landlord for the Floating Rock, had initially been notified of this proposed merger between the Floating Rock and Yoki Japanese Cuisine and Sushi, and had expressed support for this merger. The intended merger would be helpful to both businesses, and would hopefully enable the Floating Rock to stabilize their finances and become a reliably profitable tenant … Just Mass LLC has subsequently withdrawn their support for this merger, and has now stated they would prefer to evict the Floating Rock and rent the space to a chain restaurant instead. Such a move would go against the community’s preference for supporting local small business owners and greater diversity in our local offerings.

As a result, she hoped the council would urges the Community Development Department to work with Floating Rock and the landlord “toward finding an equitable compromise that would be fair to both parties, and that would allow the Floating Rock to remain in operation in Central Square.”

Not all councillors were comfortable seeming to advocate for a specific business, but the order passed by unanimous order.

Floating Rock couldn’t be saved, though. Now Yoki looks to grow from Medford — it’s hiring! — and take on the space and local sushi competitors, including Thelonious Monkfish, which is only 131 feet away.