Zen House is leaving its Hermantown home of 10 years in the ICO convenience store building at Maple Grove and Haines roads.

“ICO sold the building, so we had to move,” said Zen House manager Joe Shortino. “Word on the street is Kwik Trip bought this property.”

Kwik Trip couldn’t confirm or deny that rumor; an ICO official would only say the site is being redeveloped and a sale is pending.

Regardless of what happens on that corner, the Japanese restaurant is closing at the end of the day Thursday and relocating to 4023 Woodland Ave., the former location of Sala Thai restaurant.

“We’ve been working with contractors getting everything going there. We’re hoping to open the end of November,” Shortino said.

The downtown location inside the Holiday Center skywalk will remain open during the flagship location’s move.

Zen House, which opened in 2006, was the first sushi restaurant in the Twin Ports, taking over the vacant half of the ICO that previously housed a burger joint and a Gyro Express.

The restaurant overcame early challenges of adjacent road construction - and its unlikely gas station location.

When it opened, owner Yasuko Holt talked to the News Tribune about creating a calm retreat inside the building, decorating the space with bamboo, orchids and rice-paper screens.

"Some people have said they are hesitant to come to a gas station to eat," Holt told the News Tribune in 2006. "I'm hoping people won't realize this is part of a convenience store."

The gas pumps at the ICO have recently been taken out, and the convenience store itself was closed as of Wednesday.

While another Hermantown Kwik Trip remains a possibility, a spokesman said continued Northland expansion is a certainty.

“We’re excited to be expanding around the South Shore and the new community of Rice Lake. We’re trying to get things firmed up,” Layne Froehlich, who added the convenience store will be expanding to Ashland and Carlton next year.

By December, the chain will have 19 locations in the region, with ribbon cuttings at two new Superior locations plus spots in Cloquet and Two Harbors in the next few months.

The Woodland Avenue building where Zen House is moving was home to Sala Thai for six years; the Thai restaurant moved to a location in downtown Duluth last year. Before Sala Thai, the storefront near Woodland Avenue and Calvary Road had been home to Nam Lee's Restaurant since 1998.