Columbia restaurateur Kristian Niemi set to launch Asian tapas spot in the Vista

·2 min read
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A well-known Columbia restaurateur and businessman is set to launch a new Asian tapas restaurant in the capital city’s Vista nightlife and entertainment district.

Kristian Niemi, who owns Bourbon on Columbia’s Main Street and the Black Rooster in West Columbia near the Gervais Street bridge, plans to open The Dragon Room restaurant at 803 Gervais St., the former spot of Ristorante Divino. The confirmation came during an episode of Columbia Mayor Daniel Rickenmann’s “Around Town” podcast, which featured a wide-ranging conversation that touched on everything from the evolution of the Columbia restaurant scene to Niemi’s affinity for ice hockey.

“The Dragon Room will be a cocktail bar and Asian izakaya,” Niemi said on Rickenmann’s show.

According to, the word “izakaya” translates to “stay-drink-place,” and establishments known as izakaya are ubiquitous in Japan, and they are “places where people come to unwind with co-workers and friends.”

In his conversation with the first-term Columbia mayor, Niemi didn’t offer a timeline for when The Dragon Room might open.

The restaurateur and chef indicated the menu at The Dragon Room would be diverse.

“It will be small dishes,” Niemi said. “It will be like street food from all the different Asian countries.”

The Bourbon and Black Rooster owner noted his admiration for the tapestry of international restaurants that dot Columbia’s Decker Boulevard, and noted he wants diners to get a taste of several nations at the coming Dragon Room.

“The Dragon Room will offer (various) things in smaller portions so that you can literally do a tour through everywhere from eastern India, all the way up through China, down through Korea, down through Thailand, Bangkok, Laos, Philippines, Indonesia, all those countries and all the phenomenal street foods and traditional home foods, and a mix and match of those things,” Niemi told the mayor.

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