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High Tech 'Dine And Dash' Forces Popular Korean Fusion Cafe To Close

FAIRFAX DISTRICT (CBSLA) — Though many restaurants remain closed during the pandemic, dining and dashing still remains a problem, and even forced one restaurant owner to close up shop.

Korean Fusion Cafe -- "Spoon by H" -- has the ingredients to become an LA success story but is the epitome of a small business, with owner and chef Yoonjin Hwang working 15-hour days to run it with her mother and brother.

"We have no staff. We have no cooks. I have to do everything by myself," said Yoonjin Hwang. "Like so many other small businesses we were hit hard by the pandemic. All we could do was just like take it day by day and do whatever we could to stay afloat."

But with so many new takeout orders online and through apps came a new challenge called "friendly fraud" or "chargebacks." It is when a customer orders food, often through a delivery service, then receives it, but disputes the charge with their credit card company to get a refund.

One day, Yoonjin got her biggest order ever for more than $700.

"He came and he picked up the food, and then one week later he disputed the charge," said Yoonjin Hwang.

She lost everything. The food. The money. And it kept happening, over and over.

"I just felt so incredibly helpless and frustrated. We just couldn't keep running our business like this," she said. So, she made the decision to close up shop for good. Saturday will be her last day, much to her customers' dismay.

"When I found out it was closing, I was just devastated," said Alyse Whitney, a customer.

But patrons saw her struggles and stepped in to help, raising more than $60,000 on a GoFundMe page.

"It's been wonderful reminder that there is more good in the people around us and in our communities," she said.

Yoonjin plans to pay off her debt with the money raised and says she may consider opening a new business someday with the earnings, but doesn't know when, or what type of business.

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