Koreatown restaurants robbed during coronavirus shutdown

Chef Kang Sul Box restaurant in Koreatown.
(John Kang)

Koreatown restaurant Chef Kang Sul Box was burglarized on Monday by at least two people who took cash, credit cards, blank checks and car keys.

“People know right now that everyone is understaffed and there are no customers, so they could do this,” owner John Kang, 50, said.

At around 5:30 p.m. Monday evening, Kang said a man came into the restaurant and placed an order with his wife, Judy. According to Kang, the man, who was caught on the restaurant’s security surveillance, changed his order multiple times and offered a faulty credit card before paying in cash. While he waited for his order, another man entered the back door and found the business office upstairs. He stole $3,500 in cash, Kang’s wallet and car keys, the restaurant’s keys and a bundle of blank business checks.


A few minutes after placing his order, Kang said the first man tried to leave out the back door.

L.A. restaurants shut down for a month because of coronavirus spread

“We tried to tell him his order wasn’t ready, but he just took off,” Kang said. “We saw at least another person waiting in a car in the back loading zone from the security video.”

Shortly after the robbery, Kang learned that his other restaurant, Shuto Izakaya, located next door, was also burglarized earlier that day. The culprits stole $2,800 in cash, car keys, store keys and credit cards.

Kang posted about the robberies and included some of the surveillance footage from Sul Box on Instagram, warning other businesses in the area. There were no injuries, and Kang said he filed a police report.

The couple opened their restaurant, known best for its Korean chicken wings, in February. It is one of many restaurants that closed its dining room and reduced staff as a result of the coronavirus shutdown.

Kang has since changed the restaurants’ locks and is keeping both front and back doors locked during business hours. He’s also planning on having another staff member in the front area of the restaurant for added security.

The morning after Mayor Garcetti closes all dining rooms, things look a lot different at this Melrose restaurant.

Over the weekend, Saikai Ramen Bar, also located in Koreatown, reported a break-in. Its front door was smashed and it is unclear if anything was taken; police later caught the suspect.

“I know a lot of owners saying that they just can’t do this right now, and [are] thinking about moving back to Korea,” Kang said. “We are planning to stay open. This is not going to faze us, we will be stronger than before, we just have to be careful.”