ARVADA— The future of a family-owned Japanese restaurant in Arvada on the brink of closing down is looking brighter after Barstool Sports, a sports and pop-culture media company, stepped in and offered to help pay rent.
Namiko's Sushi Bar & Japanese Restaurant opened its doors on Dec. 23, 1988. Namiko Eshima’s mother, Yuri Chandonnet, opened the restaurant. Her picture hangs in the dining room.
“This is my mom’s legacy,” Eshima said.
She remembers it being one of the only Japanese restaurants in the area when they opened. As a teen, Eshima bussed and waited on tables to help run the family business.
The eatery survived the recession, but Eshima feared it wouldn’t survive the coronavirus pandemic. She said at one point, sales were down more than 50%.
“I just kept thinking to myself that my mom would do whatever she could to keep this place open for me, and I knew that I needed to do whatever I could,” Eshima said.
She reached out to the property owners multiple times to get help with rent, but it wasn’t until December of 2020 they agreed to delay payments for three months. The rent will have to be paid back in 2022.
Eshima said she was frustrated and feeling helpless. But one day, her son suggested applying for the Barstool Fund, a crowdfund helping business hurting launched by Barstool Sports. She admits she was hesitant at first.
“I’m not important,” she said.
In February, she applied and asked for $10,000 for three months, a total of $30,000, to cover her $14,000 monthly rent. Less than three weeks later, she got a FaceTime call from Dave Portnoy, the founder of Barstool Sports.
“We want to make sure that you have everything in a place that your mom started,” Portnoy said.
Eshima was shocked and began to cry.
“Complete shock — you just don’t think anything like that is going to happen to you,” she said. “It's amazing to have that kind of support.”
Eshima’s mother died in 2017, and shortly after, Eshima was diagnosed with breast cancer. She continued to work and beat cancer. Now, she’s fighting a pandemic with the help of Barstool Sports to keep her family business running.
“I need to make my mom proud,” Eshima said.