Federal agents are at the popular Osaka Asian restaurant in Windemere shopping center on Folly Road but are being tight-lipped about the reason for their visit.
A U.S. Postal Service investigator blocked the front door, telling people the business was closed for lunch. A car on the premises was also being searched.
Government officials issued a statement on the visit after an inquiry was made by The Post and Courier: "ICE Homeland Security Investigation special agents are assisting the IRS with the execution of federal search warrants as part of an ongoing investigation. As a matter of ICE policy, we're precluded from commenting on ongoing investigations."
The statement came from Barbara Gonzalez, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Southern Regional communications director and spokeswoman.
A hand-scrawled sign in blue ink on a glass door at the restaurant entrance said "Closed." An investigator at Osaka said he could only comment that he was there on official business.
The restaurant was popular with locals and out-of-towners.
"It's a very good restaurant," said Bill Gray of Charlotte, who owns a local beach home. "It's the best Chinese food in the Charleston area that I've found," he said.
At nearby Sohn & McClure Jewelers, owner Bill Sohn described the people who worked at the restaurant as polite and nice. "Sugarfoot, there goes a good place to eat," Sohn said. "All I know is they had excellent sushi," he said.
Some employees at Phillip's Shoes said they saw six-to-eight Osaka workers lined up behind the store. The operation was very quiet, and there were no sirens, they said.
"I know a lot of the guys. They just work hard," said Michael Lucas, a salesman at the store. Lucas said he ate lunch at Osaka a lot.