Dine-and-dash scams force famed Korean restaurant Spoon by H to shut down this weekend

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Spoon by H has served up delicious desserts and Korean dishes for almost a decade, but a surge in dine-and-dash scams has forced the restaurant to temporarily close.

When it opened in 2012 in Los Angeles, chef and owner Yoonjin Hwang started with desserts and later expanded her menu.

Word spread that the food is all really good. From the coffee, to spicy beef japchae -- which is stir-fried, sweet potato glass noodles -- to a simple, yet extraordinary kimchi fried rice and crispy waffles.

"I love kimchi," Hwang said. "I think that's why I make so many dishes with kimchi. Like, kimchi friend rice, kimchi pasta."

Momofuku chef and founder David Chang called Spoon by H his "restaurant of the year" in 2018, giving the small business a shout out on his massive Instagram page.

"That's why we got so much love from our community," said Hwang.

It got recognition from the Michelin guide. Despite the growing success, the scams forced the restaurant to announce they're temporarily shutting down, according to Hwang.

"So many disputed charges from delivery apps or pre-order...third parties," she said.

In some cases, people claimed they never got orders that were picked up. In another instance, a more than $700 order -- their largest yet -- was disputed. Despite providing pictures of the order and the receipt, the restaurant lost the money. It became a daily problem -- one that other restaurants are experiencing.

"I just felt, like, incredibly helpless and frustrated, and the pandemic went on and it only got worse," Hwang said.

Saturday is the last day customers can pick up orders. Slots all filled up quickly. A GoFundMe page started by a loyal customer has now raised more than $60,000. So, Hwang is not closing the door to a new beginning.

"I don't know exactly when or how, but you know, I really hope someday I'm able to return all the love to our community, to our loyal customers," she said.

She urges people to not take advantage of small business and support them through a challenging time.

"We need your help," she said. "More than ever."
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