Ousted Labor Chief Julio Perez Reemerges as a Partner at Danny Godinez’s Restaurant

MeToo’d labor chief-turned-restaurateur Julio Perez. Photo by John Gilhooley

One of the hottest chefs in Southern California and a disgraced former Orange County labor leader have teamed up for a restaurant that had its soft opening in downtown Santa Ana on Friday. 

Danny Godinez, who the Weekly has called a “daring chef,” previously opened the lauded Maestro in Pasadena, Anepalco’s Cafe in Orange and El Mercado Modern Cuisine in Santa Ana.

At the latter, a booth was frequently darkened by Julio Perez, who was fired this year as the executive director of the Orange County Labor Federation (OCLF).

An OCLF investigation into sexual harassment allegations by multiple women against Perez preceded a unanimous, Jan. 25 vote by union delegates to oust him as their leader.

Danny Godinez and Julio Perez are partners in a new restaurant. Photo by John Gilhooley

Corporation papers filed in March with the California Secretary of State show that Godinez is CEO and Perez is the secretary of Santo Broders Group, which owns the new restaurant Cevichería Nais at 224 E. 3rd St., Santa Ana.

That spot has been a Mexican restaurant before, although more recently it was Diego’s rock ‘n’ roll bar, which closed in November. It is essentially across the street from El Mercado, which is on North Spurgeon Street, a few doors down from the Yost Theater space.

With El Mercado, Godinez presented the flavors of each state in Mexico–and by the time it opened he had visited each of them (The chef is no longer affiliated with the eatery). Cevichería Nais is a seafood restaurant and bar.

Among those who attended Friday’s Cevichería Nais soft opening was Anaheim City Councilman Jose F. Moreno. Santa Ana City Councilman David Benavides later lauded the business on Facebook against detractors. “I look forward to the big Grand Opening and presenting a Certificate of Recognition from the City of Santa Ana,” he wrote.

Both politicians suffered blowback on Yelp and Facebook because of Perez’s involvement in the new restaurant:


Meanwhile, some Yelp posters are already calling for a boycott of Cevichería Nais–even before the official grand opening:


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