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Birmingham Sushi restarts bistro license process

By Grace Lovins

Birmingham Sushi Café, located at 377 Hamilton Row, is reapplying for a bistro license, restarting the process for a special land use permit and final site plan and design review after losing their liquor license last year.

The city commission performed the initial bistro screening for 2023 during their meeting on Monday, November 28, with Birmingham Sushi Café as the only bistro applicant.

The restaurant has been in business in Birmingham for over 14 years, and serves a variety of authentic sushi and Chinese, Japanese and Korean cuisine with both indoor and outdoor dining. In 2021, the restaurant was purchased by the Kim family, or Kim Fam Birmingham Sushi, Inc. While the restaurant has operated under a bistro license since 2012, the recent ownership change left the bistro without a liquor license, causing them to lose their bistro designation.

According to Kelly Allen, legal counsel for the bistro, when the current owners purchased the assets of the restaurant back in 2021, they had planned to continue operating off the previous owner’s liquor license. However, a dispute between the two parties over lease payments and insurance led the former owner to decide against transferring the liquor license over to the Kim family.

Because the license wasn’t transferred over, Birmingham Sushi lost its bistro designation and the liquor license reverted back to the state. Now, the restaurant was forced to start the bistro application process over again, beginning by obtaining a special land use permit and final site plan and design review from the city planning board and and a liquor license from the state.

Nick Dupuis, Birmingham Planning Director, informed the commission that all the required information for the application was provided and the only major change was the ownership. The concept, menu, interior and location will remain the same, and the owners have the financial ability to pay the $20,000 for a “redevelopment license” under the Michigan Liquor Code.

Commissioner Pierre Boutros offered his full support of the bistro’s application, noting the business’s positive reputation.

“This is an establishment that has been in our town for 14-plus years and has a wonderful reputation, hard work from the family. … I believe I see nothing wrong but to support this,” Boutros said.

The commission voted 6-0 to send the bistro to the city’s planning board for a special land use permit and final site plan and design review, with commissioner Andrew Haig absent from the meeting.


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