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Local News

BURYING THE HATCHET: Sushi Ya chef OKs working with co-owner despite alleged slashing

Sushi bar co-owner, hibachi chef to work together again after altercation

A chef at Sushi Ya in Joliet said he was willing to work again at the restaurant, alongside the man he has accused of slashing his hand with a cleaver, because he has children to support.

Branden Bruzzo, 32, testified at the Will County Courthouse on Monday that he was fine with Judge Dave Carlson modifying the bond for sushi bar co-owner Xiong Zheng, 53, so that Zheng could work at the West Jefferson Street restaurant. Carlson ordered Zheng to only have nonharmful, nonoffensive contact with Bruzzo while at Sushi Ya.

Zheng was initially barred from having any contact with Bruzzo or the restaurant he owns with his wife, Hong Pan, after he was arrested in connection with the slicing of Bruzzo’s hand, Joliet police said. The incident occurred after the men had an argument in the kitchen, police said.

Bruzzo said he wanted to continue working at Sushi Ya because he needed to make money for his children.

“There’s always going to be tension between us, but money comes first, my kids come first,” Bruzzo said.

Bruzzo’s right hand was still bandaged from the incident that occurred the evening of Jan. 7. He said that before the alleged attack, Zheng told him to prepare chicken katsu, a breaded fried chicken dish, but he told Zheng that he would make the food later.

That’s when Zheng started to yell at him and nudge him, Bruzzo said, prompting him to hit Zheng. Bruzzo was charged with misdemeanor battery, police said.

“He thinks he can do anything he wants,” Bruzzo said.

Bruzzo said he has more respect for Pan than her husband and that he listens to her more.

Calls to Pan were not returned Monday.

On the front door of Sushi Ya was a sign that said “Sorry to miss you” and that the restaurant would reopen Tuesday. Bruzzo also said Sushi Ya would most likely open again Tuesday.

A petition from “loyal customers” was also taped to the front door of Sushi Ya. More than a dozen names were signed on the petition, including a person named “Sushi Lisa.”

Kayla Barrentine, 34, said she was working at Sushi Ya during the incident and Bruzzo asked her to call the police. Barrentine said she called the police against Pan’s wishes and was fired for it. Pan denied telling Barrentine not to call the police and said she never fired her.

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