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Ichimura Restaurateur Claims Chef Duped Him

The partner says the chef lied to get out of a partnership

Eiji Ichimura wearing chef’s whites and a white hat behind a sushi counter.
Chef Eiji Ichimura
Nick Solares

Looks like the nasty break-up between acclaimed sushi chef Eiji Ichimura and the partner at his short-lived, eponymous Tribeca restaurant just got nastier.

Ichimura owner Idan Elkon shot back at the Michelin-starred chef in court this month — accusing him of threatening staff, stealing fish from the restaurant, and lying about not being able to work.

In the meantime, Ichimura started working at competing omakase bar Uchu on the Lower East Side on Tuesday night. The restaurant with Elkon at the helm is still open with the name Ichimura, but with rotating chefs.

Elkon alleges that the chef lied specifically about his health back in June, saying that he might have cancer, had blood in his urine, and “physically had no hand strength” to continue working. The restaurateur also claims that Ichimura plotted to leave for Uchu while working at the restaurant: a breach of “duty of loyalty and good faith.”

Then in July, Ichimura filed a lawsuit against Elkon alleging that the real reason he left was because he didn’t want to work with the restaurateur anymore due to the stress. He sued Elkon, asking him to stop using his name for the restaurant.

Now, Elkon says Ichimura consented to the use of his name and also never formally resigned. The restaurateur invested $700,000 in the restaurant and wants the chef to pay up for damages to the business.

The new papers filed in court have some other damning accusations, too. Elkons’ attorneys claim that Ichimura took fish for personal purposes like parties or sold it at discounted prices. The suit also says the chef would threaten staff with firings and take tips that were due to them.

All in all, Elkon wants Ichimura to pay him close to $1.8 million in damages.

It’s a dramatic entanglement for a restaurant that started a couple years ago. Elkon and Ichimura met while Elkon dined at Ichimura at Brushstroke regularly, and by 2016, they agreed to partner up for an omakase at Leonard Street.

According to the suit, the agreement was that Elkon would pay for the build-out for the ten-seat and $300-per-person omakase restaurant, and Ichimura would earn a $195,000 a year salary.

Ultimately the restaurant was short-lived, lasting less than five months. Ichimura, who has consistently received two stars from the Michelin guide, left at the end of May to pursue working at Uchu.

Eater has reached out to the chef’s attorney. Stay tuned for more.

69 Leonard St

69 Leonard Street, Manhattan, NY 10013