Sushi by Bou — the fast-paced omakase restaurant with multiple locations on the East Coast — reopened for indoor dining Thursday at its Nomad outpost despite New York City’s ongoing ban, which currently only makes allowances for outdoor dining, takeout, and delivery. The restaurant closed again Friday after an NBC report publicized its reopening plans.
“We read the court order one way, but after speaking with the city we have decided to close again,” said Michael Sinensky, one of the managing partners of the restaurant, in a phone call with Eater. Sinensky was referring to a temporarily ruling issued by a New York judge last week that prompted state officials to allow indoor dining to resume temporarily at half capacity in most parts of the state while the case is ongoing. State officials clarified at the time, however, that the indoor dining ban would remain in place in NYC, once again citing the city’s density as the reason for closure.
Several Instagram users echoed the same distinction when they commented on a Sushi By Bou post announcing to customers that the Nomad outpost, located at Hotel 3232, on East 32nd Street, between Madison and Park Avenues, was taking reservations for dinner on Thursday night. Sinensky — through his personal Instagram account — initially countered the indoor dining ban, writing on the social media platform that the restaurant had interpreted the ruling in a different way and was going to stay open.
“I am reading it that my restaurant is locate [sic] within the New York State borders and I should not be treated differently and I am not going to have my employees go homeless because of horrible punishing unintelligent covid restrictions,” Sinensky wrote in one response.
After speaking with city officials, Sinensky backed down from his position, and Sushi by Bou re-closed for indoor dining. Sinensky said in a text message that he had to let the 10 staffers working at this location go following the latest closing.
Sushi by Bou first opened in NYC at Gansevoort Market in Chelsea in 2017. The restaurant — known for its fast-paced omakase sets, selling 30 minute sittings with 12 sushi preparations at $50 per person — was led by controversial chef David Bouhadana, whose previous East Village restaurant Sushi Dojo was shut down after Bouhadana publicly refused to wear gloves during service.
Months after opening, Bouhadana, who is a white man from Florida, came under fire for imitating a Japanese accent while serving diners at the sushi counter. The Gansevoort Market spot shuttered by the end of 2017, but Sushi by Bou went on to expand to new locations including spots in Jersey City, New Jersey; Chicago, Illinois; and Miami, Florida. According to the restaurant’s website, Sushi by Bou currently runs over 10 locations, although about half remain temporarily shuttered due to operating restrictions amid the pandemic.