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Ex-spouses reunite to run Yoshi restaurant in East Aurora

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,” said Jennifer Marabella. “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.”

At Yoshi, first-class sushi and meaty successes, too

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