Ninja Sushi takes over ex-Sammy’s Rockin’ Island space in Roseville

Ninja Sushi and Teriyaki in Roseville’s "Scallop lover.”
Ninja Sushi and Teriyaki in Roseville’s "Scallop lover.” The Sacramento Bee

The popular Roseville restaurant Ninja Sushi & Teriyaki has moved from suburban Pleasant Grove Boulevard to the former Sammy’s Island Bar & Grill space at 238 Vernon St. downtown.

The new Ninja measures 13,000 square feet – more than four times larger than its former space. Ninja, which opened in August 2013 with 12 employees, now employs 83 people.

Led by chef/co-owner chef Steve Kwon – who is known to erupt into drum routines behind the sushi counter – Ninja earned the No. 63 spot on Yelp’s national top-100 list in 2015. Though it did not make the 2016 list, it maintains a 4.5-star (out of five) Yelp rating. The Bee gave Ninja three stars (out of four) in a July 2015 dining review.

Ninja celebrated its grand opening Friday night with live music, a DJ and karaoke.

The new Ninja offers essentially the same food it did on Pleasant Grove Boulevard, but has added a new drink menu. Whereas the first location served beer and wine only, this one offers a full bar.

“We’re also serving beer from our neighbor, Monk’s Cellar” on tap, said Chassidy Durrett, Ninja’s human resources leader. Monk’s Cellar restaurant and brewpub sits next to the new Ninja on Vernon Street.

When it opened in 2012, the Hagar restaurant, then called Sammy’s Rockin’ Island Bar & Grill, was billed as the linchpin of downtown Roseville’s revitalization.

It closed for the first time in 2013, after owner Stephen Pease went missing. His body later was found in the Pacific Ocean near Gualala. He died from “undetermined causes,” according to the Mendocino County Sheriff-Coroner’s Office.

Pease was in default on a $1.5 million loan from the Roseville Community Development Corp. nonprofit when he died.

Sammy’s Island Bar & Grill, owned by the family of rocker Sammy Hagar, closed for the second and final time in February 2015. The Hagar family took over the celebrity-themed restaurant in 2014.

Kwon and Ninja Sushi & Teriyaki began leasing the space Nov. 1, according to a Roseville Community Development Corp. staff report. Terms of the lease were not disclosed.