Brothers Aaron and Yusuke Jackson, the new owners of Mt. Fuji in Breckenridge Village, are combining their love of the Japanese restaurant with a dedication to quality and a desire to bring a little “Dallas flair to Little Rock.”
They have a long history with Mt. Fuji, which opened in 1986 as the first sushi restaurant in Little Rock. Their mother, Fusae Jackson, who is Japanese, worked at the restaurant for about 10 years, and the Jackson boys grew up with the children of the previous owner, Emiko Biggin, whom the brothers described as “a close family friend.”
So when Biggin sought to sell the restaurant, she approached the brothers. “She kind of wanted to give it to someone who understood the value of Mt. Fuji and what it means to the community,” said Aaron. “We celebrated every single birthday we had over here, and we just really have a fond memory of this place.”
That was in late 2020, and the brothers, who had moved to Dallas in 2014 where they worked in the restaurant business — Aaron as a chef and Yusuke in front-of-the-house roles — found that the timing wasn’t right, the pandemic being a major obstacle.
But by last year, the stars had aligned, and Aaron, 29, and Yusuke, 24, bought the restaurant on Aug. 26, 2022, and moved back to the Little Rock area. It’s a family enterprise with Aaron and his wife, Shannon, focusing on the kitchen and Yusuke and his wife, Sofia, focusing on the front of the house.
Aaron in particular has extensive restaurant experience, working as a server at Mt. Fuji while attending the University of Central Arkansas. In Dallas, Aaron started out at a ramen shop but then hired on at the Water Grill, an upscale seafood restaurant. After that, it was on to Uchi, a high-end Japanese restaurant with a national profile. Other stops in the Dallas area include J2 Steakhouse, where he worked his way up to executive chef.
He also worked for a time for Nusret Gökçe, the Turkish chef, restaurateur and internet phenomenon known as Salt Bae, who owns Nusr-Et, a global chain of luxury steakhouses. That wasn’t a good fit and Aaron ended up as the executive chef at The Porch Restaurant in Dallas. At that point, Yusuke approached him about going in together to buy Mt. Fuji.
The new owners of Breckenridge Village, KBK-Breck LLC, an investment group led by the Keet family of Little Rock, liked the Jacksons’ plans for Mt. Fuji. “We told them we want to keep the authentic recipes but also bring the quality up and bring a little bit of that Dallas flair to Little Rock,” Aaron said.
The restaurant will be moving from its current 2,400-SF location to a 3,200-SF space in the retail center at 10301 N. Rodney Parham Road sometime in October.
Yusuke, noting the difficulties caused by the March 31 tornado that damaged Breckenridge, said, “I just want to reemphasize our love and appreciation for all of our longtime regulars and guests who have shown us a lot of love for sure.”