About Us

UKIAH Japanese Smokehouse restaurant is a unique concept created as a collaboration between a group of friends. Asheville partners Derek Allen and Kevin Wojtowicz met restaurateur Michael Sponaugle over 10 years ago and have been dreaming and scheming ever since about opening a restaurant downtown. Partnering with additional talent, including award-winning Chef Michael Lewis, Steven Haigh and Lizzy Maynes, they are excited to bring their new concept to the Asheville community.
What's with the name?

Sponaugle: It spells “haiku” backwards, reflecting a little bit on our approach to food… structure and balance, turned upside down…

Why did you get involved in the project?

Allen: I work with craft food and beverage folks every day as part of my job. In our free time, my family and friends enjoy nothing more than excellent food, in an authentic space, with the right company. When some friends of ours came up with the idea for this restaurant, we simply could not turn it down. It just felt natural.

What’s your favorite thing on the menu?

Maynes: That’s a tough question – I guess it depends on how I’m feeling! But you can’t go wrong with some sliced Hamachi, crispy Beech Mushroom, Baby Back Ribs and Toyko Street Corn.

Our Team

Ukiah’s menu was created by award winning Chef / Owner Michael Lewis. Chef Lewis has been involved in the culinary industry for over 25 years. Beginning in New York City, he trained under Chef Eric Ripert of Le Bernardin, Chef David Bouley, and most significantly, Chef Jean-Georges. where he worked in many of his restaurants, during which gained three Michelin stars. Most recently, he was Global Executive Chef for seven years at high-end Japanese restaurant Zuma, and then opened his own successful Asian inspired restaurant, KYU where he received numerous recognitions, including a James Beard nomination for Best New Restaurant within its first year.

Ukiah Best Places to Eat in Asheville NC

Chef Michael Lewis

Co-Founder & Executive Chef

Julian Ramirez

Restaurant Manager

Megan Ray

General Manager

Ian O’Shaughnessy

Chef de Cuisine

Keenan Knight

Head Bartender

Become Apart of the Ukiah team

Interested in a career at Ukiah Japanese Smokehouse? Check out our available positions on our careers page by using the button below.

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