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West Valley sushi bar owners’ praise police officer after customer refuses to pay

(The Sumo Special. One of the items on the order the customer refused to pay for. Credit: Tammy Nguy)

WEST VALLEY CITY – A small gesture from a police officer makes a world of difference for the owners of a well-known West Valley sushi restaurant.  They say the officer reached into his own pocket to help them after someone stiffed them on a to-go order.

The owners of Sumo Steak and Sushi say they’ve never really needed to have customers prepay for large orders before.  That’s because they’ve never been stiffed on one, until this week.

Manager Tammy Nguy says, “We have had orders that have been placed that are two or three times bigger than this and people would always come or be on time.  We have even had catering orders where we’ve said, “Yeah, you guys can definitely pay later,’ and they’ve never failed to pay.”

(Restaurant managers say the person also ordered the OMG Roll, pictured here. Credit: Tammy Nguy)

Nguy says the “customer” in question ordered pho, a teriyaki plate and more than half a dozen sushi rolls, which costs between $80 and $100, total.  However, the customer never showed up to pay for the meal.  Nguy says her mother tried to call the person who placed the order, but all calls from the restaurant were blocked.

Normally, if something like this were to happen, Nguy says they would just take the loss.  Sadly, they’ve seen a drop in revenue from COVID-19 and a loss like this would have hurt them a lot more than usual.  Nguy says this single order accounts for roughly 50 percent of their current daily income.

“We are so tight on money, on ingredients and everything that it just broker her heart that someone would do this, right now,” she says.

Nguy called the West Valley Police Department to see if there was anything they could do to get their money.  They asked Officer Danny Christiansen if he could call the customer, himself.  Unfortunately, that call went straight to voicemail.  Even if Christiansen had contacted the customer directly, there really wasn’t anything he could have done to compel that person to pay.

Christiansen says, “Unfortunately, in this kind of case, because they never obtained the service, technically wouldn’t be ‘theft of services.’  It would be more of a civil problem, in nature.”

He didn’t want to let the food go to waste, or to have the restaurant take the loss.  So, he did the only thing he could do… buy the food.  He took the meal back to the station to feed some of his fellow officers.

“We hear on the news, all the time, about how the restaurants are going through a difficult time, right now,” he says.

Christiansen wasn’t able to determine if this was a prank or if the customer just didn’t want to make the purchase after hearing the final cost.  He says it was a minor gesture, but Nguy says it raised their spirits more than they can describe.  She says her mother is still talking about how grateful she is for Christiansen.

However, they’ll likely change their policy on prepaying, especially on big orders.