Visitors can be forgiven for expecting tacos and salsa at TokioMex Teriyaki, Sushi and Tempura, the newest restaurant in downtown Pasco.
TokioMex is a thoroughly Japanese restaurant, save for a few Mexican touches and beverages.
“Japanese food and a Mexican chef,” is how Severino Garcia describes the new business.
Garcia and his wife, Fidelina, opened TokioMex in late April in a vacant spot that once housed a Mexican restaurant in the heart of downtown.
For the Garcias, the new restaurant fulfills a long-time dream.
Originally from Mexico, Garcia spent 17 years working in a Japanese restaurant in California. He started humbly enough, working two hours a day as a janitor. But curiosity took hold and he ventured into the kitchen to learn how to prepare sushi, teriyaki and tempura.
The couple moved to the Tri-Cities first in 2010 and for good in 2012 to fulfill their dream of owning a home and starting a restaurant.
He went to work for a Korean restaurant in Kennewick while he cast around for opportunities to start his own business.
With little money to invest, he toyed with selling sushi at the Pasco Flea Market. Regulatory issues were prohibitive.
In this area, there is nothing like this, There’s no competition.
Severino Garcia, TokioMex
Friends counseled him to launch his enterprise in a food truck. Garcia scouted his options but found none that would work for sushi. The trucks for sale in the Tri-Cities tend to be configured for tacos, he said.
Luck intervened when he went to pay his car insurance.
Garcia struck up a conversation with his agent, Nicolas Zavala of American Family Insurance. Zavala owns commercial properties in Pasco and thought Garcia might be a good fit for ta vacant restaurant spot on West Lewis Street.
The Garcias saw the space last August and set to work converting it into a clean, if very plain, Japanese restaurant. The windows and kitchen had to be enlarged, the bathroom outfitted to accommodate people with disabilities and the small bar was converted to dining space.
It took longer than expected, but TokioMex made its debut in April to strong reviews.
Garcia suspected Japanese food would be a welcome addition to Pasco’s dining scene, which is robust but heavily skewed to Mexican cuisine.
“In this area, there is nothing like this, There’s no competition,” said Garcia. Zavala converted the space and Garcia worked with vendors to finance the equipment he needed.
TokioMex is open for lunch and dinner daily, with Monday hours beginning next week. It is at 510 W. Lewis St. The phone is 509-380-0413.
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