On the brink of ruin

Wai Lee, the owner of Eastern Court restaurant, says his business has been destroyed by false rumours that a customer found a dog chip wedged in his teeth after dining there.
Wai Lee, the owner of Eastern Court restaurant, says his business has been destroyed by false rumours that a customer found a dog chip wedged in his teeth after dining there.

A CHINESE restaurant boss says his business is on the brink of bankruptcy after a vicious rumour claiming a dog’s microchip had been found wedged in a customer’s teeth swept the Five Towns.

Wai Wing Lee, manager of Eastern Court Cantonese Restaurant in Glass Houghton, claims hundreds of diners have been driven away by false reports that a dentist recovered a chip from between a diner’s teeth when he complained of toothache after eating at the Oriental buffet.

Mr Lee revealed the business had made a loss for the last three weeks and had lost two-thirds of its trade – as the rumours continue to spread across the district and on social networking websites Facebook and Twitter.

Wakefield Council confirmed it had received no complaints about the Colorado Way restaurant and said there was no evidence to support the “malicious rumours”.

Mr Lee, whose parents own the family business, said: “When I first heard it I thought it was so ridiculous that no-one would believe it, but it’s driving away customers and if things carry on like this we will go bankrupt.”

The worried manager told how customers began calling the restaurant – which serves around 4,000 diners a week – around a month ago to ask if the rumours were true.

He said: “Customers started calling to ask if we were closed and told us the details about what they had heard.

“It just couldn’t believe it – it’s total nonsense and I thought anyone who heard it would think the same. But since then we’ve been a lot quieter and I’ve heard from people from as far away as Barnsley and Doncaster who’ve heard the rumour.

“Everyone’s talking about it – I’ve not spoken to a single person who hasn’t heard it.

“It’s destroying our business. We’ve had to get money from elsewhere just to keep our business afloat. It’s not just the credit crunch or the fact that people aren’t going out to eat because our competitors don’t seem to be struggling.

“It’s just beyond belief.”

Mr Lee has contacted the council’s environmental health department, who have written to him confirming there has been no investigation into any food hygiene complaints at the restaurant.

He said: “They said they’d received inquiries about it from residents as well as the police. They said they’d never heard of anything like it.

“I have no idea how this rumour started – it’s not because we’ve been closed. We’ve been open for seven years and the only day we’ve been shut is Christmas Day.

“We’ve worked so hard to make the business a success and this is ruining it. We hope that when customers find out this isn’t true they’ll come back to us.”

A council spokesman confirmed there were no current investigations in relation to food hygiene matters at the restaurant.

He said: “We have had no complaints related to the restaurant and have no evidence to support what appear to be malicious rumours.

“The premises has a three-star rating under the Scores on the Doors scheme and continues to be subject to the standard routine food hygiene inspections required by the Food Standards Agency.”