First Posted: 7/9/2010
LUMBERTON Three friends have been given the chance of a lifetime running their own restaurant.
Hironobu Max Kajiyama, Nixon Nick Higgins and Robinson Rob Sahm are partners in a new Japanese restaurant in Lumberton called Yama Express Japan at 3101 Fayetteville Road.
The restaurant opened May 18 in a commercial center behind Walgreens, in a retail space formerly used to sell infant clothing. Yama Express offers traditional Japanese food, including sushi.
The trio helped in the remodeling of the restaurant and today the area is outfitted with plenty of tables and chairs and padded booths, with dark wood accents, a tile floor, and large framed mirrors and paintings accenting the walls.
The three men came to know each other while working at other restaurants owned by the Miyabi Group based in Myrtle Beach, S.C., which today has eight restaurants. Kajiyama worked for several years at the Myrtle Beach restaurant. Higgins worked at a restaurant in Savannah, Ga., and Sahm worked for the Charleston, S.C., restaurant.
We kind of knew each other, Higgins said. He and Sahm first met when they worked together at a Miyabi restaurant in Augusta, Ga.
Higgins said the Miyabi Group offered the men the chance to open their own establishment.
This opportunity this blessing is to be owners instead of employees, Higgins said. We thank them for giving us this opportunity.
Higgins and Sahm are from Micronesia, and Kajiyama was born in Japan. The three men have moved to Lumberton.
Max does all but the cooking, said Higgins about Kajiyama, and Kajiyama is teaching his two partners the business end of the food service industry. Sahm and Higgins are the primary cooks.
Kajiyama and Sahm said they are already seeing repeat customers. While being interviewed for this story, Sahm saw a man enter and said, That guy walking in right there, hell order vegetable dinner.
And he did.
Customers have been very friendly, Higgins said.
Asked what the favorite item is on the menu with folks in Lumberton, Kajiyama said, Chicken bowl … and hibachi shrimp and teriyaki chicken.
Hibachi shrimp and teriyaki chicken is one of the house specials, served with fried or steamed rice, onions and zucchini. It costs $6.95.
Other house specials include hibachi vegetables, steak and shrimp. The menu also includes salad and soup, sushi, and side orders ranging from fried rice to fried dumplings. Carry out is available.
Our teriyaki chicken is different thats our specialty. It has a different flavor, said Higgins, who has more than 12 years experience in the food service business.
The restaurant employs about a dozen part-time employees.
It is open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily. To reach Yama Express Japan, call (910) 608-3000.