WESTPORT — The downtown Japanese restaurant which temporarily closed for renovations amid labor abuse charges has reopened.
Matsu Sushi temporarily closed for renovations in April and opened once more in late May, according to one of the owners who declined to identify himself. He said some of the renovations in the store included adding lights and repainting the interior.
Matsu will continue to be closed on Mondays for further renovations, he said, but the restaurant is open Tuesday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Despite a new look, the restaurant is still dealing with old legal troubles.
The restaurant has been the subject of controversy in the past year after being charged with several labor abuses, including firing two employees — Liguo Ding and Jianming Jiang — for refusing to complete a 36-hour shift. The owner declined to speak on the ongoing legal case with the workers.
In October, a judge ruled the restaurant had illegally fired the workers and ordered them immediately reinstated. What followed were several protest outside the restaurant as the store had yet to restore the employees to their old positions.
On May 6, state Sen. Will Haskell and state Rep. Jonathan Steinberg sent a letter to Ziqiao Cao and Kim Ming Cheng, encouraging the owners to meet with the workers.
“We don’t want to come down too hard on the owners ... but we do want to make sure everyone who works in Westport is treated fairly,” Haskell said Tuesday.
Haskell said his hope is that Westport can have a thriving business there and that they can treat workers with the dignity they deserve.
Meanwhile, Steinberg noted Matsu Sushi has been a well-regarded restaurant in Westport for many years.
“It was disturbing for us to hear there were management labor difficulties about some employees who were no longer working there, and lack of clarity about why the restaurant closed down,” Steinberg said.
He said the goal is to restore amity to the parties involved.
“We hope to help broker a dialogue and conversation,” Steinberg said, adding management has not been forthcoming and that there are a number of rumors about who will be employed and who won’t be.
Steinberg said he has been hopeful the issue would resolve itself in time, “but I don’t think it has.”
After the legislative session ends at midnight Wednesday, Steinberg said he would have more time to focus on community matters and may make some further inquiries into Matsu.
“Our goal is to make Westport better, and this is one way we can help,” Steinberg said.
Matsu’s lawyer Benjmin Xue was unavailable for comment.