Yae Nakato, 96: Co-founded Atlanta’s Nakato Japanese Restaurant

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

7:06 p.m. Monday, June 6, 2011

Yae Nakato, 96, helped start the Nakato Japanese restaurant on Cheshire Bridge Road

In 1974, Yae Nakato left her native Japan to help run a family startup in Atlanta. Her sister, the late Tetsuko Nakato, had opened the Nakato Japanese Restaurant and needed her younger sister’s assistance.

Today, there are a total of five Nakato restaurants with two in Charlotte, and one each in Myrtle Beach, S.C., and Springfield, Mo. All offer a hibachi grill as well as traditional Japanese dishes, some of which reflect Mrs. Nakato’s worldly culinary influences that she perfected at the first location at 1776 Cheshire Bridge Road.

“Her sister called to help with a family venture, and now all the restaurants are owned by family, cousins and uncles,” said Sachiyo Nakato Takahara, a relative who co-manages the Atlanta location. “We celebrate 40 years in Atlanta next year. We are a third-generation restaurant, and we are grooming a fourth generation.”

Yae Nakato of Marietta had contracted fluid in her lungs and died Saturday from its complications at Piedmont Hospital. She was 96. The funeral will be held at 2 p.m. Friday at the Happy Science Temple in Atlanta. H.M. Patterson & Son, Spring Hill Chapel, is in charge of arrangements.

Mrs. Nakato was the youngest of seven siblings, children of parents who owned a lumber company that was based in Manchuria, China, and conducted business throughout Asia. After World War II, her parents lost the business and were forced to return to Japan, their homeland.

“She lived all over Asia when she was younger, so it influenced her cooking,” Takahara said. “Her ingredients were amazing, and she always cooked for everybody else who worked in the restaurant, and she did it well. She was the behind-the-scenes person who took care of employees and the family.”

In her younger years, Mrs. Nakato immersed herself in track and field sports and participated as a sprinter in Korean national events. Coaches and teammates nicknamed her  “Tsubame,” which means sparrow in Japanese.

Mrs. Nakato and Takao Nakato, her late husband of more than 30 years, never had any children but helped raise several. She never learned to speak English.

“She had her green card, and she took pride in the United States,” Takahara said. “She was very low-key but stern and was very dedicated to the company.”

Additional survivors include nieces and nephews.

2010 Taste & Tour of Cheshire Bridge Road




Contact: Yuki Takahara
Fax: 404-874-7897

Phone: 678.777.7833

E-mail: yuki@tourofcheshirebridge.com

Website: www.tourofcheshirebridge.com


A Weekend of Sensory Exploration on Atlanta’s Quirkiest Little Road

The upscale, family-friendly businesses of Cheshire Bridge Road are working together to bring you the 2nd annual Taste & Tour of Cheshire Bridge. Some of Atlanta’s top restaurants will offer tastings while other retail stores will offer raffles and discounts. Ticket sales from this year’s event will benefit the Lindbergh LaVista Corridor Coalition or LLCC and the Blueprints plan to beautify the Lindbergh LaVista Corridor area.

Atlanta, GA, September 11-12 – The Taste & Tour of Cheshire Bridge will operate Saturday September 11 and Sunday September 12. Tastings, tours, will be offered from 12 noon to 5 PM with a gathering after 5 PM at Cheshire Pointe with local musicians, artist and information booths on civic associations, nature conservancies, park services and public service groups. Recommended lots for parking are on Liddell Drive, Faulkner Road, and 1893 Piedmont Road (back parking lot of Nakato Japanese Restaurant). Trolley service will be available with a history tour of the colorful street. Tickets will be sold online at www.lindberghlavista.org and participating store locations. Ticket prices are $20 each for the entire weekend. Many of the Cheshire Bridge businesses will be offering different samples, tastings, and giveaways for each day of the event.

Proceeds from ticket sales will benefit the Lindbergh LaVista Corridor Coalition, a non-profit organization for promoting the safety and progress of the business nodes along the corridor as well as creating a blueprint for sustainable and progressive neighborhood planning. 

Many of the participating businesses have called Cheshire Bridge Road their home for decades while others have recently joined the eclectic Cheshire Bridge mix. Participating businesses include but are not limited to Alfredo’s, Antiques and Beyond, Bamboo Luau, Java Blues, The Colonnade, Costumes Etc., Flora Dora, Las Margaritas, Nakato Japanese Restaurant, Nino’s, Taco Cabana, Habersham Gardens, Johnny’s Pizza, Return to Eden, Roxx Tavern, Rusto’s Pizza, Ursula’s Cooking School, Sheik’s Burritos n’ Kabobs, Woodfire Grill and Rhodes Bakery. 

If you would like more information on this event, the participants, or if you would like to schedule an interview with any of the participants, please e-mail yuki@tourofcheshirebridge.com.

Visit www.lindberghlavista.org for more information on the community blueprint.

Welcome, new Board Member: Yuki Takahara

Yuki Takahara
Yuki Takahara
Yuki Takahara is Assistant Manager of Nakato Japanese Restaurant. She also coordinates the Taste & Tour of Cheshire Bridge and organized the Cheshire Bridge Business Association (CBBA). Yuki graduated from UGA with a BA in Finance in 2006 and worked at an LA-based private equity fund and a software firm before returning to Atlanta in 2008 to manage the restaurant, her family’s business for three generations.