Sad news as one of Los Angeles’s most beloved restaurants is shutting down. Owner and chef Yoonjin Hwang announced her restaurant Spoon By H will be closing on February 27th or until supplies last. She cited the hardship of the pandemic coupled with fraudulent charges by customers as the two main reasons for closing. The restaurant located a little west of Koreatown became popular after celebrity chef David Chang repeatedly praised the food.
Hwang talked to the Los Angeles Times about the rampant “new form of dine-and-dash” that restaurants are dealing with. Basically, customers order food from restaurants through a third-party app and falsely claim that something was missing prompting a refund.
“We lost order, time, precious ingredients, and the problems accumulated to the point where we just couldn’t stay in business anymore,” Hwang said. “We’re losing money to these issues, despite all the evidence we provide.”
The worst incident of someone stealing food at Spoon By H occurred on November 10th. The customer placed a huge order through Tock to be picked up on November 18th. The customer an “older Asian man” wanted four “meat lovers” combo meals which amounted to $728.76.
He didn’t put in his vehicle information in the order form but Hwang didn’t think much of it. She needed the vehicle information due to Los Angeles having curbside takeout only.
On November 18th, the man came to pick up the food and she personally thanked him for buying such a large amount of food during these hard times.
“I asked him why he didn’t give us his vehicle information so that he could just stay in his car, but he didn’t say anything,” she said. “I thought he was an older Asian man like my dad, and that maybe, like my dad, he just wasn’t very talkative.”
But on November 25th, Hwang was notified that the customer was disputing the charge. Visa told her the customer said someone else used the card and it was listed as “other fraud card absent.”
She sent all her evidence to Visa but two months later she was notified she lost her appeal. She had to eat that $728.76.
“Despite presenting supporting evidence, the issuing card company often sides with the consumer, even in cases that may be fraudulent,” the Tock message stated.
From then, Hwang took photos of every item in an order. She noticed that the scammers would claim an item was missing but when presented with evidence they would then say they found it.
“Some people order two things and say that they only got one item, so we had to start taking photos,” she said. “When I send them the photo, they[then] claim they found the other item in the car.”
In another instance, a customer demanded a refund on Postmates claiming she got the wrong size of a certain meal at Spoon By H. However, Hwang explained to Postmates that her restaurant only served one size of that meal which prompted a reimbursement.
Hwang said the constant fraud took a huge toll on her and made her suspicious of customers and that’s now how she wanted to operate.
“It pains me to think that I would grow so suspicious of our customers, and that is not how I want to do business,” she said.
Now Spoon By H is closing after nine years in business. The restaurant opened in 2012 as a dessert cafe but expanded to making all kinds of Korean food.
“We started Spoon By H as a small dessert cafe back in 2012 and we never could have imagined we’d have the privilege to watch our dreams grow bigger and bigger,” Hwang wrote on Instagram. “That we’d work so hard doing what we loved and get such an outpouring of love in return from you all…Thank you for being a part of our journey and please continue to stay safe and healthy.”
“Running a restaurant is expensive – especially in Hollywood. With a goal of $80,000, this will hopefully be a solid cushion to cover some rent and supplies for a minimum of six months while restaurants remain closed during the vaccination period for Los Angeles residents,” the Gofundme said. “100% of the proceeds raised as well as anything above the goal will go directly to the business as additional aid.”