After a successful opening, restaurant hopes to find a normal routine soon
A trip to Japan, a love of Japanese street food and an Australian Cattle Dog inspired Rokko’s Teriyaki & BBQ, the newest addition to the restaurants in downtown Cheney. David Hall and his wife Inez opened Rokko’s on Feb. 24 and the family business was booming instantly.
“We just turned on the lights and we just got slammed,” Hall said. “I think people are willing to go out of their way to get real food.”
The Hall family came to Cheney on a recruiting trip for their daughter in 2009 and wanted to eat teriyaki for dinner. They were saddened when they found that there were no teriyaki restaurants in town. When they visited downtown Cheney, Hall was even more discouraged.
“I thought, ‘This is the biggest waste of an old downtown I have ever seen in my life, especially for a college town,’” Hall said. The idea to sell everything they owned in Seattle and move to Cheney to open up Rokko’s “do or die” style was born at that moment.
The inspiration came from a picnic Hall attended when he was 13 years old.That picnic left a lasting impact on his taste buds. When the family knew a restaurant was opening in the near future, that picnic was forefront in his mind.
“They had teriyaki chicken legs glazed with teriyaki sauce, … they had meatballs. They were mixing and matching stuff. And it was all Japanese-ized. It was the coolest thing I had ever seen in my life,” Hall said.
Hall has a background in construction and with the help of friends and family, they turned the building into a Japanese alley. The remodeling idea came from a trip they had taken to Japan.
The view from the hotel was of an alley, with a modern building on one side and an older house on the other. The memory still stands out for the family.
“When I walked in here, I thought, ‘You know what, I am going to give it that feel,’” Hall said.
If patrons of the restaurant sit at the tables right in front of the windows and look the length of the restaurant, the “modern building with graffiti” is the red wall that runs the length of the building on the right. The kitchen area on the left is the “old house.” The “alley way” leads to the bathroom at Rokko’s and is decorated with multi-colored lantern lights strung overhead to light the way.
The food served is different from anything else in Cheney and the community is glad to have something new to try. The Stevens family visited Rokko’s because of a recommendation from a family member. Paul Stevens is looking forward to trying out a variety of items on the menu.
“That fellow sitting over there, he got the meatballs,” said Stevens. “When he got up to get his silverware, it was all I could do to not grab one because they looked good. But he’s big. I figured he would probably beat me if I grabbed one.”
Stevens had the pork shank and was thrilled with his choice.
“It was awesome,” Stevens said. Next up on the menu for him might consist of meatballs, served in his own to-go box.
Diane Stevens had the spicy teriyaki chicken. “It cleared my sinuses. It was very good,” she said.
Not all of the patrons enjoyed their meal as much as the Stevens family. Josiah Torba will return “eventually” to eat at Rokko’s and give them a second chance.
“It depends on what you are looking for. If they are just hankering for teriyaki, it’s a good place. If they are hankering for getting better food for the same price, they could probably do so at China Buffet. I am a quantity over quality guy,” Torba said.
The family-friendly establishment is located at 506 First St. This was a soft opening and they are still getting things figured out. Hall estimates that they are serving 300 people a day with their homemade food. They are figuring out how to serve better food and serve it faster.
Currently, the hours of operation are 12-3 p.m. and 5-9 p.m. However, those hours may vary as the restaurant finds a normal routine. Hall suggests calling 509-359-8010 for more information on current hours of operation.
“Japanese street food is insanely good,” Hall said. “It’s delicious and it’s fun and it’s fun for them to eat. We wanted a fun food place so it made sense.”
Paul Stevens plans on returning to Rokko’s. “I think it’s a good addition to the town. We liked it and we are coming back.”