Nori tacos from Kojo.

Speaks Clam Bar, which has locations in Lakewood Ranch and St. Armands Circle, pays tribute to the beloved Italian-American clam bars of Long Island. For its new restaurant, Kojo, which opens today, Hi Hospitality Group, the company behind Speaks, is going in a totally different direction, with a pan-Asian menu that includes baos, sushi, nori tacos and entrées that highlight flavors from China, Japan and Korea.

Kojo is located in the prominent downtown Sarasota space that's been empty since Lemon Tree Kitchen closed last year. In addition to the cuisine, the restaurant features a number of cocktails created by beverage director David Roth, as well as a list of premium sakes.

The restaurant will be open for dinner only to start, but restaurateur Natalia Levey says current plans call for Kojo to begin serving lunch in April. Instead of taking reservations, for now, Kojo is using an online waitlist system. Beginning at 4 p.m., customers can claim a spot in line on their computer or phone. The restaurant opens for business at 5 p.m. daily.

"We created this space because connection, especially right now, is more important than ever," says Levey. "Kojo will be a place for everyone to come, relax, have fun and enjoy family and friends."

Kojo is located at 1289 N. Palm Ave., Sarasota, and is open 5-11 p.m. Sunday-Thursday and 5 p.m.-midnight Friday and Saturday. For more info, call (941) 536-9717 or visit the restaurant's website.

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