The land at the edge of downtown Minneapolis on the west bank of the Mississippi was owned by the late Reiko Weston, a Japanese woman who married a Minnesotan, Norman Weston, in 1952.
Reiko Weston had extraordinary vision. In 1959, she opened a restaurant, Fuji-Ya, on LaSalle Avenue in downtown Minneapolis. The restaurant was such a hit that she began looking for a bigger place and in 1961 found what was the perfect location: a burned-out flour mill at 420 S. 1st St.
...Weston handled the land with care. She hired a Japanese man, Shinichi Okada, who was an architecture student at the University of Minnesota, to design the building in a manner respectful of the ruins and Japanese culture. (Okada now is a well-known architect in Tokyo.)
In 1968, Fuji-Ya, built on the thick foundations of the old mill, was complete and people from throughout the metro discovered the wonders of Japanese food and the beauty of the river.
In 1988, Reiko died at age 59. Her daughter believes the stress of trying to work with the board contributed to her fatal heart attack.