The founder and CEO of a popular chain of sushi restaurants in San Antonio, Austin and Dallas was forced to close the chain of restaurants temporarily last week after an immigration audit.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement conducted an I-9 audit, in which companies are required to prove that their employees are eligible to work in the United States.
When the audit was announced, a group of employees chose not to show up for work, according to Alfonso Tomita, the company's CEO.
"We complied with what we needed to comply with, so I think we haven’t done anything wrong,” Tomita said.
He said that he hopes to re-open some of the restaurants within two weeks and said he has been actively recruiting new employees.
“We have expenses that we need to cover,” Tomita said. “Our vendors, landlords and bankers have been very supportive.”
Though worried about the chain’s bottom line, Tomita said he is also concerned for the employees who did show up but cannot work because there is not a large enough staff to keep the restaurants running.
“It’s the livelihood of 500 families that depend on us and that’s the most important thing,” he said.