A NEW high-end Japanese restaurant will open its doors in Newbury tonight (Thursday).
Arigato, which means ‘thank you’ in Japanese, has made its home in the former Britannia Building Society building on Bridge Street following an extensive renovation that took just 10 weeks to complete.
Last week, the launch of the restaurant was attended by representatives from The Vineyard, The Woodspeen and The Harrow at Little Bedwyn as well as other local businesses.
Invited guests were served Champagne and wine, alongside a selection of sushi, sashimi and hot food.
The new venture is by Newbury-based BDZ Holdings and is headed up by Adrian Wiley, the former general manager of Highclere Castle.
Before Arigato, Mr Wiley was responsible for launching the castle as a commercial venture for the 7th Earl of Carnarvon and has a successful portfolio in hospitality and heritage.
The restaurant is owned by Newbury-based entrepreneur Bob Rae, who previously owned the Newbury Manor Hotel and has several other business interests in the area.
The restaurant’s head chef is George Neil.
In 1990, Mr Neil began working part-time in London’s first Japanese restaurant, Mitsukoshi, while he was studying.
But he soon realised that being a chef was his calling and he left college to work full time at the fine dining restaurant in Piccadilly.
He spent five years there and says he learnt everything from the Japanese-trained chefs, learning to speak the language and training as a sushi and sashimi chef in Japan.
Eventually it was time to move on and Mr Neil headed to the world-renowned Nobu in Mayfair, where he spent six months before a call from a former colleague drew him to Newbury.