The chefs behind two popular Portland restaurants, the Korean food cart Kim Jong Grillin’ and the newly opened Chinese spot Danwei Canting, may have been the victims of illegal discrimination. Chefs Han Ly Hwang (Kim Jong Grillin’) and Kyo Koo (Danwei Canting) say they reached out to Lake Oswego’s Hot Shot Hood Cleaners, which specializes in cleaning restaurant range hoods, and were told it was the company’s policy to not serve “Oriental” restaurants.
Speaking with WWeek, Hot Shot owners Bob and Ginger Koch said their policy was not discriminatory; rather, it was a case of knowing their “limitations.” They created the policy “after years of trying,” specifically because they do not have the manpower or the right equipment to handle peanut oil. The Kochs also said they refer such customers to other cleaning businesses.
But Eater reached out to Hwang and Koo, and they confirm they were not asked if they use peanut oil or referred to another cleaner. Both chefs declined further comment to Eater, stating they think the cleaners were merely acting out of a lack of awareness.
Regardless, the owners of Hot Shot Hood Cleaners may have committed a crime — whether intentionally or unintentionally — by rejecting Hwang and Koo’s request for service. According to the Oregon Civil Rights Division website, it is “illegal to discriminate in places of public accommodation on the basis of race, sex (including pregnancy), sexual orientation, national origin, religion, marital status, physical or mental disability, or age (18 years of age and older).”