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After Massive Outpouring of Support, Korean Hit Spoon By H Plans ‘a New Beginning’

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After a surprise GoFundMe campaign nets north of $50,000, owner Yoonjin Hwang says a new future is possible for the beloved nine-year-old Korean restaurant

Fruit-covered triple waffle at Spoon by H
Fruit-covered triple waffle from Spoon By H
Wonho Frank Lee
Farley Elliott is the Senior Editor at Eater LA and the author of Los Angeles Street Food: A History From Tamaleros to Taco Trucks. He covers restaurants in every form, from breaking news to the culture, people, and history that surrounds LA's dining landscape.

It’s been a hectic month for Spoon By H and its fans, and that’s being mild.

The restaurant first announced on February 5 that it had been the victim of an unfortunate chargeback scam, where an unnamed diner placed “one of the largest orders we’ve ever received,” at north of $700, and picked up the food only to then fraudulently state to its payment company that the food had never been received at all. The resulting fallout spanned weeks of back-and-forth between listing platform Tock, the credit card company used to make the payment, and Spoon By H, and it ultimately left the small Korean star restaurant on the hook for the entire bill.

This week, owner Yoonjin Hwan announced that it had all been too much — the ending work and struggle to stay afloat during the ongoing pandemic and cratering of the Los Angeles restaurant industry, the failure of the federal government to offer more robust financial intervention, the ongoing chargebacks against her (and other) small businesses — so Spoon By H would be closing on Saturday, February 27.

Except, well, now, who knows.

A GoFundMe link quickly circulated on social media for the restaurant following an outpouring of Twitter and Instagram support from prominent restaurant players like chef David Chang and Netflix’s Phil Rosenthal. Since then more than 750 individual donations have poured in to the tune of more than $50,000, and it’s all leading to a bit of a rethink from restaurant owner Yoonjin Hwang.

While the original GoFundMe wasn’t started by Hwang, she has since come to embrace it, saying in a statement on the crowdfunding site last night:

To all of our Spoon By H customers, friends, and supporters, thank you from the bottom of our hearts for the love you’ve shown us this week and always. We’ll never be able to find the words to express how incredibly grateful we really feel.

We were blown away by the GoFundMe donations we’ve received from our community and we still can’t believe how blessed we are to receive this outpouring of support and encouragement. We thank you, sincerely, for every kind word and every message that has kept us going through it all.

Then there’s this: “We don’t take a second of it for granted, and the raised funds will go towards a new beginning for Spoon By H. Thought we don’t know exactly when or how or what our new beginning will look like, we hope to have the opportunity to serve you all.”

And so it now seems that a new, but different, future is in store for Spoon By H, the delightfully eclectic nine-year-old Korean restaurant known for turning out some of the city’s most delicious and inventive fare. As Hwang says, it’s still too early to know what shape that second beginning will look like (or where, or when) so for now it’s safe to assume that the final weekend of current service will still be this Saturday, February 27. Perhaps a new day is ahead in the restaurant’s current space, or perhaps there’s new life to be found elsewhere in Los Angeles at some point. Regardless of the details, for now one thing is clear: Spoon By H is still here, wants to continue to keep Los Angeles fed for a long time to come after all.