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18 years ago, no one thought a dedicated Hawaiian/Japanese fusion restaurant would survive. Today, Hapa Sushi has proven them wrong!

In late 1998, Mark Van Grack moved from D.C. to Boulder. For 20 years, he had lived and worked in D.C., enjoying all the things that living in a hip, mature city brings — including a vast selection of food options. When he arrived in Boulder, he found a very different food scene. It may be hard to believe now, but 18 years ago Boulder was almost strictly a college town and did not have a great restaurant selection. Thus, the idea for Hapa Sushi Grill & Sake Bar was born.

After 20 years of working in an up-and-coming city and industry, Mark saw a need for a more fun, delicious restaurant in Boulder. His previous industry had taught him to see trends, and he could see that sushi was not a fad that was going to end in two years.

In 1998, most sushi restaurants were mom and pop shops. They were one-off locations with different menus and a unique flair based on the individual owners. Mark saw an opening and elected to jump on it quickly. He took over what had been the New York Deli in Boulder, and brought Hapa Sushi to the people.

When Hapa first opened, the people of Boulder weren’t fond of it. The Camera, a local newspaper, ran an article that was very blatantly upset about the New York Deli being taken over by Hapa. However, 18 years later, Hapa Sushi has four locations and is going strong!

Today, Hapa Sushi has their original location in Boulder as well as one in Cherry Creek, one in Greenwood Village, and one in LoDo. They regularly host all sorts of charity events and community outreach events. They also make major donations to many organizations in Colorado, including Project Angel Heart, Safehouse Denver, and school districts in Denver and Boulder.

In honor of their 18th anniversary, Hapa Sushi decided to hold a competition amongst their customers. The grand prize? An ACTUAL trip to Hawaii! Funny enough, it took about six weeks to reach the lucky recipient, due to the winners not believing they actually won the contest! Check it out:

Who could have guessed that one man’s dream would become a fantastic dining experience for people all over Colorado and a trip of a lifetime for this lucky couple? Here’s to Hapa Sushi! May you have many more years of success here in Colorado!

*All photos are from Yelp or provided by the business owner*

Hanging Lake is one step closer to implementing a visitor cap and reservation system.

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