"Kamikazi Kowboy Rolls" are coming back to downtown Santa Rosa.
Tex Wasabi's, the Fourth Street sushi and barbecue joint owned by celebrity chef Guy Fieri, reopens today for lunch after a 20-month closure and an extensive renovation.
Its return provides another shot of energy to the dining scene in downtown Santa Rosa, where the dormant Cantina restaurant across the street reopened last month as La Rosa Tequileria & Grille after several months of renovations.
Tex Wasabi's has been remodeled and its menu revamped, said Michael Osterman, food and beverage director for Fieri's two restaurant chains, Johnny Garlic's and Tex Wasabi's.
"We've really had fun deconstructing the menu and rebuilding it again," Osterman said.
The restaurant now has broad front windows offering patrons a view of Fourth Street. It also has more seating, an open upstairs dining area and more bathrooms, said Nicole Massey, training and catering director for Johnny Garlic's and Tex Wasabi's, who was part of the restaurant's original crew.
The staff of 60 front-of-the-house employees and 20 to 30 employees in the back have been training for the past week, she said.
"It's very exciting to have everyone finally here on the floor, getting the vibe and the feel for the place," Massey said. "I know they spent quite a bit of money on revamping."
The Fourth Street venue held a private reception Monday for restaurant staff and proprietors of neighboring businesses to do a dry run.
"The salmon tacos were to-die-for," said Deborah Cali, owner of S.H.E., a women's clothing boutique. "It's night and day. The facade in the window is amazing."
Fieri, who hosts three shows on Food Network and the NBC primetime game show, "Minute To Win It," was not at the reception Monday because he is on a book tour, said Brett Hutchison, chief operating officer. The restaurant is planning a grand reopening which Fieri will attend in about six weeks when the book tour is complete, he said.
The restaurant closed in September 2009 after a sewer pipe ruptured, causing severe water damage.