Sad news for Fort Worth sushi fans came out this weekend over Little Lilly's Twitter feed. Jesus Garcia, head chef for the restaurant that earned a four-star review from the Dallas Morning News, notified followers that he no longer worked for the restaurant.
While not employed, Garcia maintained access to the restaurant's Twitter account, and used it to announce his termination. "I was accused of stealing their customers through my pop-ups, which I was given permission to do in the first place," Garcia said through a series of tweets that have since been deleted. "I bled for Little Lilly Sushi and wish them the best of success."
Owner Danny Liu says Garcia was not terminated, but that he turned in his keys after a tense day at the restaurant. Garcia had set up a "pop-up" restaurant, a hand-crafted burger event to be held on Little Lilly's front patio. Garcia came in early to accomplish prep work for the event, but apparently hadn't finished as other employees were starting work for Lilly's main dinner service.
After bumping into employees at various stations Garcia lost him temper, taking out his frustrations on a dishwasher, Liu said. "She came to me crying," Liu said of his dishwasher, who accused Garcia of using a slur. Liu wouldn't repeat the phrase, but said it amounted "stupid Guatemalan people," and likened his words to racism.
Whatever Garcia said, it was enough to make Liu note he needed to talk with Garcia, and that's about when Garcia came to turn in his keys, Liu said. Garcia noticed a repair person was changing the locks and took it as an omen, but Liu said Garcia is wrong. "I didn't fire him," he said. "I lost the door key and called someone to fix the door lock."
Whether or not Garcia was fired, the sushi chef says he's already looking for new jobs. He's applied to one position at a restaurant in Seattle, and is also looking at Chicago and San Francisco as potential new homes. When asked why so far, the chef says he's ready for a change, hinting that his frustrations at Little Lilly were rooted well before this weekend's event.
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to the Observer's mission. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Dallas's stories with no paywalls.
Support Our Journalism
"This was the longest job I've had in had," Garcia said. "In my mind, I was becoming a little stagnant."
Little Lilly, meanwhile, has to charge on without its star chef. Liu is soft-spoken, and Garcia took the spotlight as head chef, talking to customers while he worked the sushi bar and giving the restaurant a distinct personality that had a lot to do with the positive press it has received over the years.
Liu doesn't seem worried about the loss though. "I've doing this business for 15 or 20 years now." he said. "Everybody keep going."
Little Lilly Sushi, 6100 Camp Bowie Blvd., Suite 12, 817-989-8886, littlelillysushi.com