Major shakeup at Fort Worth's critically lauded Japanese restaurant Little Lilly Sushi: Chef Jesus Garcia has been fired — or left voluntarily, depending on who you ask.
In a series of tweets posted Sunday evening that have since been deleted from the restaurant's Twitter account, Garcia claimed that the restaurant's owners had accused him of "stealing their customers" through his pop-up events, which in recent months have included collaborations with nearby restaurants like Revolver Taco Lounge and Tokyo Cafe.
Reached for comment via email, Garcia explained that the apparent firing occurred during Sunday afternoon's Burgers & Brews pop-up he was hosting in conjunction with fellow Fort Worth restaurant Far Out Burgers. Unlike previous popups that Garcia has had a hand in, this one was being held at Little Lilly — something he says he received permission from the owners to do. By the end of the first course, though, Garcia says the restaurant's locks were being changed and he received email notifications that he'd been locked out of his business email account as well as the restaurant's Facebook page. According to a report by DFW.com, "owner Danny Liu says Garcia left of his own accord, after a verbal altercation with a dishwasher."
Since they have wasted no time removing my access (that might take a while since I handled all social media) I, Jesus bid y'all farewell.— Little Lilly Sushi (@LittleLillySush) April 27, 2014
I was accused of stealing their customers through my pop-ups which I was given permission to do in the first place.— Little Lilly Sushi (@LittleLillySush) April 27, 2014
All the success I achieved, building my brand was only done alongside their name. I bled for LLS and wish them the best of success.— Little Lilly Sushi (@LittleLillySush) April 27, 2014
I lost my marriage & my religion & my family ties for them. I would do it again. To be in the company of phenomenal chefs with reviews— Little Lilly Sushi (@LittleLillySush) April 27, 2014
That I was lucky to earn. It's as much my effort as Danny & Shu's money that propelled us forward. Never imagined it would succeed like it— Little Lilly Sushi (@LittleLillySush) April 27, 2014
Did or end like it did. Please support them and I wish them the best. Hopefully they won't need a PR guy to clean this up.— Little Lilly Sushi (@LittleLillySush) April 27, 2014
Love you FW, critics & our guest. See you down the road!— Little Lilly Sushi (@LittleLillySush) April 27, 2014
The restaurant's owners tweeted the following Monday morning:
We wish all the best to Jesus Garcia. He has given his all to LLS, and we thank him for that. -Danny and Shu Liu— Little Lilly Sushi (@LittleLillySush) April 28, 2014
Under Garcia's leadership, not-quite-two-year-old Little Lilly garnered an impressive four-star review from the Dallas Morning News and also earned a spot on Texas Monthly's "Best New Restaurants of 2014" list.
So what's next for the talented 26-year-old? He says he was already considering a possible move to Seattle, the Bay Area or Chicago, or perhaps elsewhere in DFW — but yesterday's events will force him to do more than just ponder.
[Photo: Robert Strickland/EDFW]