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Salaryman Closes as Fundraising Starts for Chef Just Holt

A fantastic and thoughtful restaurant in Bishop Arts has closed as its founder battles leukemia.

Salaryman, where just before the pandemic we were loving the ramen and meats coming off the yakitori, was the brainchild of Justin Holt, who now has another focus.

The chef was diagnosed with leukemia in early October and had to stop working immediately to focus on his health. Since then, he has been in the hospital receiving active and aggressive treatment.

A GoFund Me page has been set up to help with the substantial and necessary medical expenses Holt is facing. A larger benefit to help cover the extensive costs of long-term treatment is being organized for early next year.

“It’s heartbreaking that Justin, who has been so committed to taking care of our employees and community, has to stop cooking to fight for his own health,” said Trina Nishimura, spokesperson for Salaryman and Justin’s partner, in a release. “Of course we are sad to shutter our first shop. But, for now it is time to focus on Justin’s health. The shop is just bricks… the talent, drive, work, and soul of the shop is Justin. And we hope that our patrons and friends in the community will rally to help Justin get through the difficult next step of this journey.”

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It is heartbreaking. It’s another superb restaurant we’ve lost this year. And as for Holt, he has continually not only served food that created quite a following of fans, but he’s worked to give back to others, such as his efforts to provide food to people who needed it in the beginning of the pandemic.

Holt opened the 27-seat restaurant in September 2019, after eight years as the sous chef at Lucia and many years of successful pop-up ventures.

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