Edinburgh natives open youth-centered Sakura Event Center downtown

Sakura Event Center co-owner Cody Martin embraced a Japanese theme for the business, complete with paper lantern lamps and artwork of Japanese landscapes.


EDINBURGH — A new youth-centered event space with a Japanese theme is open in downtown Edinburgh in the former site of a Chinese restaurant.

There are many event spaces Johnson County and several others in town, but Edinburgh parents Cody and Heather Martin had a new vision; they wanted to open a space that is equipped to entertain people of all ages.

“We’ve talked on and off about creating a youth-centered business. There’s not much to do if you’re middle school age (in Edinburgh), you have to go to Franklin or Columbus,” Cody Martin said. “We finally put pen to paper when this building became available.”

The spot was previously occupied by Peking Chinese Restaurant, which closed last February. The building at 126 E. Main Cross St. went up for sale in May and the couple bought it in August. After extensive preparation that included removing a kitchen, buffet tables and carpeting, they opened in November, he said.

“We have three kids, and when the first one turned two or three, we realized we would be in Edinburgh and wanted a positive experience for them as they got older with their friends and the youth generation,” Martin said. “On New Year’s Eve we had seven consoles set up, with Nintendo 64 to Game Cube, the perfect 90s era. Long term, we’d like to see more of that going on here.”

Cody Martin graduated from Edinburgh Community High School in 2005, and his wife graduated in 2010. The pair met years later in Franklin before moving back to the town they grew up in, Martin said.

For now, the businesses is primarily for people to rent for events. So far, it’s hosted baby showers and children’s birthday parties. People have already started to book events several months from now, he said.

“The month of June is almost completely booked out,” Martin said. “We have more than a handful of graduations planned through June, we have a quinceañera. We can have up to 50 people for events; we don’t want anyone to feel crowded. If they want to dance, we have a wood floor. It’s important for us to have an open space rather than a backroom somewhere.”

Board games include classics such as Monopoly, Sorry, Uno and Catan and the center offers video games including Mario, Pac-Man, Asteroids and Call of Duty. The Martins chose a Japanese theme for the event center because of their affinity for anime and manga.

“There are a few places for rentals around town, but you’re renting a blank room with tables and chairs. We wanted to take it a step further,” Martin said. “If a rental is having a birthday party, you can guarantee it will have kids there. Kids get bored first, so we’re trying to make it easier for parents, as kids can play games or play on the crane machine while the grownups are chitting and chatting.”

The event center is a valuable addition to the downtown, said SaraBeth Drybread, Edinburgh’s community development director.

“(Peking’s owners) ultimately decided to put their building up for sale and it’s great to hear a local couple was interested,” she said. “Edinburgh doesn’t have a lot for birthday parties and bridal showers. It’s a great opportunity for them to house those types of events in the community. They’re also bringing in game nights and things not readily available for youth. It’s an opportunity for them to get out and experience downtown.”