sushi Sambi of Tokyo, a fixture in Downey since it opened on Firestone Boulevard nearly 40 years ago, is closing. The owners confirmed that the restaurant’s last day will be Oct. 24. Employees were notified of the closure last Friday.

“It has to do with so many issues. Basically it’s due to the economy, that’s a major setback for us,” owner Shiho Toyohara said in a telephone interview.

Sambi opened Sept. 13, 1973. It currently employs 67 people, down from more than 100 employees five years ago, Toyohara said.

The restaurant was also facing potential closure by the Downey Fire Department, which said the business was not up to fire codes, Toyohara said.

Bringing the restaurant up to code would cost at least $25,000, she said.

“For us being here so long I thought they would give us more time to comply, but it didn’t work out that way,” Toyohara said.

Toyohara’s father purchased the property in the 1960’s and built the building in the early 1970’s. The restaurant has remained in the family since.

“We appreciate everyone coming to our restaurant for 37 years,” Toyohara said. “Hopefully in the near future we’ll be able to open up another restaurant with the same name, the same food, everything. But probably it will be a lot smaller than this one.”

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