AP NEWS

Matsu Sushi lawyer: restaurant to reopen in a few weeks

April 2, 2019

WESTPORT — Matsu Sushi, a downtown restaurant which appeared to close for good Sunday amid labor abuses, will reopen in a few weeks, Matsu’s lawyer said.

“Matsu is closed temporarily to undergo some renovation. We expect it to reopen in two to three weeks,” Matsu’s lawyer, New York City based attorney Benjamin Xue said Tuesday.

A sign posted on the door of the restaurant Monday stated “Matsu Sushi is currently closed for renovation.” However, frequent Matsu customer Molly Alger wrote to the local blog 06880 that she had dinner at Matsu on Sunday and was told the restaurant is closing permanently, which caused confusion about the shop’s status.

After over 15 years in Westport, Matsu was not doing well and the restaurant’s owners, who were not available for comment, are planning to adjust the restaurant’s hours and may only serve dinner upon reopening, Xue said.

In the past year, Matsu has been charged with several labor abuses, including firing two employees for refusing to complete a 36-hour shift.

In October, National Labor Relations Board Judge Kenneth W. Chu said Matsu’s owners — Ziqiao Cao and Kim Ming Cheng — discriminatorily fired the two workers, and ordered they be reinstated and provided with backpay and other expenses related to their loss of employment.

The two workers — Jiang and Liguo Ding — who submitted the complaint to the labor relations board, have not been reinstated to their positions or compensated.

Jiang and Ding filed a lawsuit against the restaurant along with two of their former Matsu co-workers, for failure to pay minimum and overtime wages that is still making its way through the U.S. District Court of Connecticut.

James Bhandary-Alexander, of the New Haven Legal Assistance Association, Inc., is representing the workers in court and said many restaurants attempt to close to avoid liability for labor violations by closing shop.

But Matsu’s owners could still be held responsible for any labor violations even if they close because of a $250,000 lien against the restaurant and a court decision that preventing them from selling the restaurant until it compensates the workers, Bhandary-Alexander said.

In the meantime, the fired workers and their supporters have been protesting regularly outside the restaurant, which Xue said is destroying Matsu by decreasing the restaurant’s goodwill in the community.

The fired workers and organizers supporting them, however, say they believe the protests and litigation are helping bring justice to the workers.

svaughan@hearstmediact.com; 203-842-2638; @SophieCVaughan1