Mara­bel­las make Yoshi a fam­ily af­fair

The Buffalo News - - TASTE - By An­drew Z. Galarneau

Sam and Jennifer Mara­bella met in 2001, got mar­ried, had a son, and got di­vorced. Now, 13 years later, they’re get­ting back to­gether again – but it’s not all about love.

Sam Mara­bella was look­ing for a new chef for Yoshi, his East Aurora restau­rant. Jennifer was look­ing for a new gig af­ter leav­ing Snyder’s Siena, where she was ex­ec­u­tive chef for eight years. Their son, Car­men, whom they have raised to­gether, is 16 and ready to work.

Now they’re all part of the Yoshi fam­ily, af­ter Sam Mara­bella made his ex-wife an owner of his restau­rant, at 33 Elm St.

“Work­ing with your ex-wife, what could go wrong?” Sam Mara­bella quipped in a state­ment.

He opened Yoshi, serv­ing sushi and Asian cui­sine as well as Amer­i­can sta­ples like fried chicken and steak, in Fe­bru­ary 2017.

The Mara­bel­las met in 2001, when Sam was the new owner of Broad­way Joe’s Bar and Grill in Uni­ver­sity Heights, and a mem­ber of a band called Sweatin’ Like Nixon. Af­ter mar­riage, child­birth and di­vorce, they had their son in com­mon.

What did Jennifer tell her friends about her bold move?

“They all know that my strange fam­ily dy­namic works for us, and in a way, al­most envy what we have,” she said. “Our abil­ity to work to­gether as di­vorced par­ents and raise our kid to­gether is our top pri­or­ity. Car­men, my fu­ture rock-and-roll god, is what keeps us bonded. We spend hol­i­days to­gether and no­body bats an eye. We are fam­ily. No mat­ter what.”

On the food front, Jennifer will con­tinue to of­fer a blend of sushi, Ja­panese and Western tastes. “This week, along with our reg­u­lar spe­cials, we of­fered a teriyaki burger with fresh-cut fries, as well as a fish fry,” she said.

With the sit­u­a­tion rem­i­nis­cent of the setup for a Net­flix dra­matic se­ries, can rekin­dling ro­mance be far be­hind?

There is zero chance of a stereo­typ­i­cal Hol­ly­wood end­ing, she said. Sam is “the fa­ther of my child, busi­ness part­ner and great friend,” she said. “We will never be to­gether in that way but I trust him with my life.”

It’s not what peo­ple ex­pect, but it works for the Mara­bel­las, and that’s what mat­ters.

“We’re stuck in each other’s lives for­ever,” Jennifer Mara­bella said. “[We] might as well make the most of it.”

JAM Park­side, a cof­fee shop owned by the

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