For Dallas chef Justin Holt, 2020 could not have started off any better. His recently opened Oak Cliff ramen shop Salaryman had received both local and national acclaim for its inventive approach to ramen and Japanese cuisine.
“Everything was just, it was crazy and it was busy and Justin was working like 80-90 hour weeks,” said Holt’s partner Trina Nishimura.
But then, in March came the first hurdle to his growing restaurant – a global pandemic.
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Holt and his business partner David Uygur worked to adapt Salaryman to the limitations required by pandemic restrictions.
“He’s very creative and talented – driven,” said Uygur.
But then in October arrived the biggest blow of all. After not feeling well for months, Holt was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Salaryman closed its doors in mid-October.
“Less than 48-hours of his initial diagnosis of lymphoblastic leukemia we were in the hospital,” said Nishimura.
Much like his approach in the kitchen, Nishimura believes Holt will work and fight his way through cancer. And friends expect that in the end, the seemingly never-ending rigor of 2020 will be another thing the talented chef channels into his work.
“He will be back, he will be back strong. He will be a force to be reckoned with in the Dallas food scene,” said friend Tony Nicastro.
If you’d like to help Justin and his family with the mounting expenses of fighting cancer, click here.
*Map locations are approximate, central locations for the city and are not meant to indicate where actual infected people live.
**County totals below include all 32 North Texas counties, not just Collin, Dallas, Denton and Tarrant.