Kenichi Kanada and Bil Rieger opened Kenichi in 1991 in the hope of providing Aspen with a new local hot spot “to see and be seen”. Today, Kenichi continues to delight with the freshest sushi and pan-Asian cuisine – while upholding a uniquely hip and alluring dining environment for Aspenites and vacationers alike.
Kanada grew up in Nagoya, Japan before launching his sushi-making career at Takah Sushi in Aspen and later becoming the executive chef at Kenichi. Rieger was raised in Aspen while enjoying the many outdoor sports and general enthusiasm for life that is so prevalent in Colorado. While Rieger utilized his exceptional charisma to manage the floor of Kenichi, Kanada ensured only the finest and freshest fish be served daily.
When asked what brought him to Aspen, Kenichi Kanada replies:
“I came on a ski vacation like everyone else… Now I like flying back from Denver and looking down from the plane on this wonderful little town [Aspen]. I have good feelings here.”
The success of Kenichi as a restaurant corresponds with the origin of “Kenichi” as a name – which translates in Japanese to signifying “strength” and “ambition” while being associated with first-born males.
Despite obstacles faced by the restaurant, Kenichi has consistently persevered without compromising its foundational values. After Bil Rieger tragically passed away in September 2011, longtime business partner and CPA Brent Reed became Kenichi’s co-owner with Kenichi Kanada.
While Kanada moved his permanent residence to Hawaii after opening a Kenichi restaurant in Kailua-Kona in 2003, he visits Aspen monthly to sustain his cornerstone role in each of the Kenichi restaurants. A Kenichi restaurant additionally opened in Austin, Texas in 2001 and continues to thrive.
Visit each of Kenichi’s three locations and delight in the complex fusion of flavors offered on the menu.
Kenichi describes the artistic process of making sushi:
“Sushi is very personal. People see what I’m doing. I make them feel comfortable with me, then they enjoy my sushi more.”