Given how readily U.S. restaurant patrons embrace most things Japanese—consider the nonstop popularity of sushi restaurants, the current ramen noodle shop craze and the emergence of large-format izakaya concepts as hip dining and drinking destinations—it’s no wonder the idea of restaurants built around house-brewed sake seems ready to catch on. It’s a wide-open market where operators who missed out on the craft beer-driven brewpub phenomenon can get in on the ground ...

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