Denvers DOMO Japanese restaurant reopening, according to owner

Four months after Domo Japanese Country Restaurant owner Gaku Homma announced he was permanently closing the business, he’s decided to give it another go.

Homma said on Facebook this week that he will return to the kitchen after a brief hiatus and plans to reopen the restaurant, 1365 Osage St., although, he didn’t specify exactly when because of inspections and other necessary processes, like cleaning the backyard garden.

In his Facebook post, Homma, 73, also said he has been using his time off to take a series of trips to Turkey, Nepal and Thailand to teach the practices of Aikido, a modern Japanese martial art. During his visit to Thailand, he cooked some of Domo’s popular curry, which he has been serving in support of the Monthly Meals Project in Denver for the last 32 years, for children at Bilay House, a humanitarian aid and education facility.

“It makes me smile and makes me feel warm in my heart that I can help people feel happy with what I cook and serve,” Homma wrote. “With such a source of satisfaction, I am thinking of coming back to the kitchen, so that I can keep doing these support activities to help people in need.”

In 2021, Domo was forced to temporarily shut its doors after a 40-second video on TikTok showing off the beautiful outdoor gardens went viral and led to hundreds of people forming lines around the restaurant, which was counterintuitive to social distancing measures, according to a Facebook post from the restaurant.

In September last year, Gaku Homma permanently closed the restaurant, saying he was ready to retire, and if he reopened, the increased business wouldn’t allow him to keep up the quality standards that his patrons were used to. He originally opened the business in 1996.

Things are going to be different this time around, though. Homma wrote on Facebook that the restaurant will reopen as a simple food both often seen in Southeast Asia with curry and a few other menu items to choose from. It will not be a full-service restaurant like before. Homma said he wants his customers to focus on Domo’s longtime mission, “Dine at Domo and Feed the World,” where he uses profits to donate to local charities.

The peaceful Japanese garden will still make a comeback, though. Homma said the winter has been severe, so the garden requires plenty of TLC, including removing fallen leaves from the bottom of the koi pond, which “is a quite back-breaking and time-consuming” task, Homma wrote. He added that he will have more details to come on the reopening in the next few weeks.

BusinessDen reported last year that a developer was seeking rezoning for the property that currently houses the restaurant and dojo, which sparked concern that Domo could disappear. But Homma wrote that discussions and negotiations are ongoing, and it seems like the process will take a few more years.

“I am of the opinion that Domo can be reopened for us to enjoy what Domo and the Garden can offer while helping the society to the extent we are able,” he wrote.

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