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