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Uchi group rebranding, bringing new concept to Austin next year

Staff Writer

The team behind the Uchi family of restaurants is rebranding with an eye to the future. The Uchi Restaurant Group, which operates Uchiko in Austin and Uchi locations in Dallas, Houston and Austin, has changed its name to Hai Hospitality.

With the change in branding comes news that the group will introduce a new concept to the Austin market next year. Hai Hospitality plans to open a restaurant at 2115 S. Lamar Blvd. (across from Black Sheep Lodge) in the next 12-18 months. There are no details on the restaurant’s name or intended offerings from the new concept.

The growing restaurant group has already stepped outside the realm of sushi and fine dining, opening Top Knot in Dallas earlier this month. That modern American restaurant (located above Uchi) serves sharable small plates influenced by the flavors of Southeast Asia, Latin America and Japan.

Hai is a Japanese word that roughly translates to “heard” or “I agree.” Many Uchi staff use the word in their interactions with guests.

“Years of working alongside Japanese sushi chefs, not only did I learn the language, I loved the respect they showed one another. Answering questions with ‘hai’ isn’t just a ‘yes’; it really means ‘heard,’” Uchi founding executive chef Tyson Cole said. “Saying ‘heard’ is much more impactful, in my view, than simply saying ‘yes.’ The idea that you are taking the simple act of answering a question to another level of respect is powerful. Over the years staff all began to respond ‘hai’; it just happened organically companywide, so this feels like a natural progression for us.”