CoZara, chef Hiroyuki “Zama” Tanaka’s izakaya at 3200 Chestnut St. in University City, closed over the weekend after a five-year run.
Tanaka told me that he had been struggling to find “qualified staff” for nearly a year. Meanwhile, he said, he could not provide consistency. With today’s booming restaurant economy, staffing issues seem endemic, particularly among specialty cuisines such as Japanese; there are just so many decent sushi chefs to go around.
Tanaka opened the 140-seat CoZara in April 2014 next to Zavino and Shake Shack in a new commercial strip on Drexel University’s campus. There were many dining options on the two levels: the second-floor main dining room overlooking Chestnut Street, at the counter of the 10-seat open kitchen, at the nine-seat bar by the front door (stocked with Japanese beer and cocktails), and upstairs in a private room. A 30-seat outdoor terrace on the second floor was an option in warm weather.
CoZara was intended as a complement to Zama, Tanaka’s Japanese restaurant with more of a sushi menu just north of Rittenhouse Square at 128 S. 19th St.