Photo/Illutration Fugu restaurant Zuboraya has closed its doors for good due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic in Osaka. It was a famed landmark in the Shinsekai entertainment district. (Nobuhiro Shirai)

OSAKA--Local landmarks for a century here, two popular fugu restaurants are the latest casualties of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Zuboraya restaurants--famed for their huge 3-D puffer fish signs hanging in front--are suspending operations after closing during the outbreak and never reopening.

 "Sales had been declining drastically from March so I decided to close them down," said Takaharu Matsuda, chairman of the operating company. "I am really sorry for our customers and employees.”

Zuboraya opened in 1920 and has been providing fugu dishes at reasonable prices for generations of local residents and visitors. 

The restaurants are located in the popular Shinsekai and Dotonbori entertainment and shopping districts in the city. 

The restaurant in the Shinsekai district was first established near the area where laborers gathered. The word "zuboraya" means a sloppy restaurant. It was named in this way to encourage customers in carefree outfits to eat sloppily to their contentment.

The restaurants had stopped operating since April 8 to help curb the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Matsuda said that he will continue doing the remaining shutdown work, which will be completed in September. He does not know what will become of the eateries' paper mache puffer fish signs