Seattle-based sushi chain Blue C Sushi looks to be out of business today, with all staff receiving an email over the weekend announcing the closure of all locations.
The announcement of the closure — and by extension, that all employees would be terminated — was sent out by email to every Blue C Sushi employee Sunday evening by a representative of Madison Holdings, Inc., the company that owns Blue C. In a copy of the email sent to Eater, “unexpected financial and other circumstances” were cited as the reason. Almost all employees were terminated effective Sunday (January 6), with a caveat that some might be called in this week to help with final clean-ups.
Over 15 years in business, Blue C Sushi and its conveyor belt-driven operation grew to seven locations — five in Seattle and suburbs, and two in the Los Angeles area.
The email to employees notes that their final paychecks would be issued this week. Staff have been summoned to various Starbucks locations near Blue C locations to receive those, implying that the company may no longer have access to its restaurants.
It’s unclear how many employees are affected by the sudden shutter, but it’s likely in the hundreds — on LinkedIn, Madison Holdings is listed as having between 200 and 500 employees (presumably including restaurant employees from Blue C).
As of 2019, Blue C Sushi was the only restaurant remaining under the Madison Holdings banner — the company’s Japanese noodle restaurant concept, Boom, shut down in 2016.
No notice of the closure has been posted on Blue C Sushi’s website or social media channels, and calls to the restaurant’s locations went unanswered.
Update (January 8): In a statement to Eater, Madison Holdings cited the same “unexpected financial and other circumstances” as in the email to staff.
“We have had so much fun along the way while creating deep, lasting friendships with our community. We thank everyone for their years of patronage and wish everyone all the very best,” the statement added.
However, the picture may not be so rosy: an email from a Blue C employee to Eater (whose identity has been verified, but is withheld here) said “it’s pretty shitty how Madison Holdings treated their employees”, noting that the termination email was sent at 10:45 p.m. Sunday, almost two hours after the restaurants closed. The employee said that not even the manager on duty knew.
Furthermore, the employee pointed out that some customers might be in for extra disappointment, too: the chain promoted restaurant gift cards throughout December (including a $10 bonus with every $40 spent on cards). That employee claimed that servers and bartenders sold thousands of dollars of gift cards, only for them to be rendered useless just two weeks later.
“Now all of these guests are left with useless gift cards that they can’t spend anymore. Just another example of how they don’t care about the customers.”
Eater has reached out to ask Madison Holdings if gift cards will be refunded.
Update (January 14): A founder of Blue C Sushi, Steve Rosen, who left the company in 2011 to start pizza chainlet Elemental, has made a gracious gesture to laid-off employees. If they bring their final pay stubs to Elemental Pizza in University Village, they’ll get free pizza, salad, or a sandwich.
Rosen also wants to help with the gift card situation: he says that University Village location will also accept Blue C Sushi gift cards for up to $30 off one meal.