Ordering through an app like DoorDash or GrubHub will save you the hassle of cooking and let you be a bit fussy – you can order from your favorite restaurant. But imagine you receive your food, sit down to eat and taste it … differentAnd then, if you follow your gut, you learn that you have been cheated by a fake restaurant that stole its name. For many people ordering from two Japanese restaurants in San Francisco, that may have happened exactly, The San Francisco Chronicle reports
A restaurant, now styled as an izakaya called Chome, originally opened for delivery and takeout at the former Blowfish Sushi location. Except it didn’t bother changing the name, awning or logo at first. Chome worked as if it were Blowfish Sushi, serving sushi to people who ordered through apps like GrubHub, Postmates, DoorDash and Uber Eats with the identity of a restaurant that closed in December 2020. Before it closed, Blowfish Sushi served its neighborhood for two decades.
Former Blowfish owner Jason Teplitsky wasn’t exactly thrilled. “How does someone decide to do such a thing? Did they think we all got COVID and died? “Teplitsky tells Chronicle
Another fake restaurant, SF Wagyumafia, shares the name of a famous sandwich shop known for its $ 180 wagyu sandwich and locations in Tokyo and Hong Kong. This San Francisco restaurant has no connection with the actual chain, according to the real Wagyumafia, but advertised the $ 180 sandwich. The fake was convincing enough to fool a food writer at first, the Chronicle writes. If you’re ordering from an app without a real way to gauge what you’re getting into, what else can you do but take a restaurant at its word?
At first glance, both restaurants may look like haunted kitchen arrangements gone wrong. They are seemingly delivery-focused, easily accessible through the most popular apps, and of unknown origin. But blatantly copying other well-known restaurants to the point where people mistake one for the other, or think a classic has suddenly reopened, is more like simple fraud. The new “Blowfish Sushi” even registered as Blowfish with the city of San Francisco, making it seem like the owner knew what they were doing.
Teplitsky and the original Wagyumafia are considering legal action, the Chronicle.
In response to concerns about the legitimacy of both restaurants, DoorDash and GrubHub removed Wagyumafia and Blowfish Sushi from their lists, the Chronicle writesI also couldn’t find a listing for either restaurant on Postmates or Uber Eats.
DoorDash, Postmates, GrubHub, and Uber Eats either didn’t respond to our questions about how they verify restaurant listings in the first place, or couldn’t tell us if they have specific protections to prevent one restaurant from stealing another restaurant’s name.
GrubHub responded with a general description of its practices:
We do not tolerate any misconduct or abuse of the Grubhub platform. We have taken a number of precautions to avoid potentially fraudulent listings in our marketplace and we are constantly improving our processes and testing new features to prevent these situations. In the case of advertisements that may be fraudulent, we will immediately investigate and remove them from the market if they are in fact fraudulent.
And DoorDash delivered something similar:
At DoorDash, we work to ensure that we always provide the highest quality of service to sellers, dashers and customers. We take these kinds of allegations seriously and have suspended sellers from the platform while investigating the matter.
In the case of GrubHub, it says this type of fraud is not widespread, but it says it cannot explain exactly how it prevents fraudulent listing, as this may make the methods no longer useful. Typically, these companies check bank and tax information to set up payments, so there are some required details that can potentially confirm a restaurant’s identity.
Fake restaurants aren’t the only surprises you might find in food delivery apps: some legitimate brands have also tried to entice diners by changing their delivery names. Remember that pizza you buy at Pasqually’s actually comes from Chuck E. Cheese
Update April 8, 11:39 PM ET: Addition of statement from DoorDash.