|Origami Downtown is located in the market hotel in the heart of the warehouse district in Downtown Minneapolis. The market hotel, constructed as a two-story building in 1867, originally housed a meat market. When the city made plans to construct the “City Market”, John Heinrich, the building’s builder and owner, converted the building into a lodging house and named it the “Market Hotel”.As the near North Side boomed during the 1880’s with railroad and warehouse expansion, many hotels for working men sprang up on north first street. Heinrich reconstructed the building at this site with the help of a popular architect at the time, Newhausen. Several buildings from this period survive the area today, but the Market Hotel had the unique status of retaining its original function as a hotel until the late 1960’s.In 1990, Ichi formed a limited partnership with Del Francis and Tatsuya Saji in an effort to create a modern Japanese restaurant. Ichikawa felt that it was a perfect time to introduce sushi to an eager Minneapolis clientele. To accomplish the task of getting the restaurant open as quickly as possible, he recruited the skills of his friend, general contractor Dan Bartel.On November 19, 1990, with a staff of 13 people, including Yutaka Kanda, “Steve”, Origami’s head chef, Origami opened its doors for business. Origami success was a hard- won battle. That fall and winter diners were few as people were distracted by the Gulf War and, to make matters worse, the city of Minneapolis recorded the largest snowfall amount ever that winter. On Valentines Day 1991 Origami received its liquor license, which increased business dramatically.
Origami’s success since then has provided “Ichi” with the opportunity to buy out his partners in 1993 and in 1995 “Ichi” bought the entire Market Hotel Building, becoming a landlord to the office tenants upstairs and making it easier to expand Origami to the second floor in May 1997. The new bar lounge and dining area became a reality thanks again to the carpentry skills of Dan Bartel.