After a little more than a year of slinging top-notch noodles in the Bishop Arts District, beloved ramen shop Salaryman has officially closed its doors.
Salaryman rep Trina Nishimura tells Eater that Salaryman has permanently shuttered as its chef, ramen virtuoso Justin Holt, undergoes cancer treatment. Holt was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia in early October, and is currently hospitalized as he receives “active and aggressive” treatment for the illness. According to Nishimura, who is also Holt’s partner, the restaurant served its final bowls of noodles and broth on October 15.
Justin is in the first stage of his treatment program. It is a really aggressive treatment that requires that he be monitored around the clock,” Nishimura says. “We have been in the hospital full-time for the past month or so. It’s been really challenging in some ways but a huge relief in other ways. The team and doctors have here truly saved Justin’s life and we are so fortunate to be here.”
For those who are unfamiliar with Salaryman, the restaurant got its start as a series of late-night noodle pop-ups held at venues across the city while Holt worked as sous chef at Lucia, also in the Bishop Arts District. The shutter comes after a stellar year for Holt and Salaryman. In November 2019, the tiny Bishop Arts ramen shop was a nominee for Eater’s Restaurant of the Year award, and later, Holt was recognized with his first James Beard Award semifinalist nod. As the pandemic set in in March, Holt quickly adapted his service to, for the first time, offer his famed ramen and yakitori for takeout.
To help Holt make his way through treatment, friends of the chef have organized a GoFundMe that will help pay for medical and living expenses. Created one day ago, the crowdfunding effort has already raised more than $1,500 of its $50,000 goal as of press time.