The operator of Saky hopes the New Year brings a fresh start for the flood-damaged restaurant that’s the oldest continually operating spot for sushi in the Columbia area.
“Who expected all this rain and the flood?” Sun Suk said as repairs continue on the eatery on Fort Jackson Boulevard at I-77.
The 7,500-square-foot structure housing Saky was damaged by the same flash flood Oct. 4 that inundated homes in the King’s Grant neighborhood.
Saky bore the brunt of the flood on its side of the road.
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Two feet of water came inside and a tree fell on part of the restaurant after the bank of a nearby creek eroded in the rush of water.
“I walked in and it was a little wet, so I thought maybe it wasn’t too bad,” Sun said. “Then I went in back and could see the sky from inside of the building, so I knew I had a big problem.”
Sun, 65, took over the tiny dining spot a year ago, changing its name slightly from the original Saki as it was known since the early 1970s, which makes it among the oldest restaurants in the Columbia area.
He still fillets fish for sushi as he did when he was the chef under previous owners.
Saky is one of two popular sushi restaurants closed by flooding. The owner of Sakura, in Forest Acres, said he is looking for a new location.
Sun maintains a wall of customer photos shot at parties and meals over the years at Saky even though film for the camera is no longer available.
Regular customer Michelle Thompson said Saky’s unexpected closing “left a big void in our dining adventures.”
She likes the quality of food and the restaurant’s personality that earned Sun the nickname “Papa.”
Other sushi restaurants “just don’t compare,” she said.
Saky shares space with six other operations in a building once a lounge popular with soldiers.
Landlord Tommie Spires is forgoing his family’s usual winter vacation to repair the building.
The renovation is happening amid apprehension.
Spires is concerned the building may have to be elevated and new barriers added along the creek to improve protection from future floods, steps he said seem too expensive.
Sun, meanwhile, is eager to get back to work as he ponders welcome-back deals for diners.
He promises to find another site if forced to move should flood control requirements rule out the current spot.
“I feel like I lost my home,” Sun said. “No matter what, I’m going to go on.”
Tim Flach: 803-771-8483