Matsu Sushi set to reopen soon
WESTPORT — The downtown Japanese restaurant that closed at the beginning of the month amid labor abuses is set to reopen in a few weeks.
“I don’t know the exact date but it will be very soon,” Matsu Sushi’s lawyer Benjamin Xue said Wednesday, adding the restaurant is doing minor renovations.
A sign posted on its door April 1 said the shop is “currently closed for renovation.” Around 2 p.m. Wednesday, Matsu was quiet, with the doors locked and no sign of renovation work inside or outside the shop.
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.
The same owners will still run the restaurant when it reopens, 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 prevents them from selling the restaurant until it compensates the workers, Bhandary-Alexander said.
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