Busted! Scamwich Artist Unmasked by Local Restaurant Owners

Categories: Restaurant News
courtesy of Mike Johnson
Mitchell Kerman, photographed by Mike Johnson at his restaurant, Sugarfire Smokehouse, in Olivette. Johnson and several other local restaurateurs allege that Kerman has scammed or attempted to scam them out of free meals, claiming they'd botched previous orders he'd placed.
On Friday, September 28, at the appointed hour, a Sugarfire employee sought out Johnson, saying, "Mike, there's a guy here who says you owe him for three chicken sandwiches."

The Scamwich Artist had returned to collect his bounty.

Johnson met the man at the cash register and introduced himself. The man didn't seem eager to talk, so Johnson plowed right in. "Hey, I was talking to my friends at Roxane last night," he said, adding, "Has this ever happened to you before?"

At that the man cracked like an egg at an omelet-eating contest, fumbling for his wallet and throwing credit cards onto the counter.

Johnson unsuccessfully tries to stifle a giggle. "He was saying, 'I'll pay! I'll pay!'"

"You'll pay double," Johnson says he told the man. "And you'll leave a large tip."

Johnson instructed the chastened scammer to go back to any other restaurants he'd victimized to apologize and make restitution.

"Which he never did," Johnson notes.

Before ending the encounter, Johnson had one more task to complete. "I pushed him against the wall and I took his picture with my iPhone," the restaurateur says with glee, proudly proffering the digital shot.

Kwan confirms that the man Johnson photographed is the same man who scammed her out of a sandwich. Lucas, who also saw the photo, concurs that the snapshot shows the Scamwich Artist who scurried out of Fozzie's after his plot was foiled.

The photo is of a white man, fiftyish, with wire-rimmed glasses, prominent ears, a long nose and a gray mustache that might charitably be described as Chaplinesque. He wears his black hair short. (Judging by the coif and the mismatching shade of his mustache, it might be a toupee.) He's clad in a blue-and-white-checked dress shirt and a tie.

Gut Check traced the name and phone number Johnson provided to a Mitchell J. Kerman, of Hughes Wilner & Wolfe, a Ladue accounting firm. When we called last Tuesday, an administrative assistant at the firm told us he was out. (To lunch.) We left word that we wanted to discuss a matter involving local restaurants.

When Kerman returned our call the following day, we told him that several restaurants in the St. Louis area allege that he scammed (or tried to scam) them for free food.

Does he care to comment on the allegations?

"No, I don't," he says and hangs up.

Update: (Wednesday, October 24) Read how the Scamwich Artist returned to one of the restaurants mentioned in this report the day after it was published.

St. Louis restaurants: Do you think the Scamwich Artist got -- or tried to get -- you? Drop us a line!

Location Info

Sugarfire Smoke House

9200 Olive Blvd., Olivette, MO

Category: Restaurant


12 N. Meramec Ave., Clayton, MO

Category: Restaurant

Fozzie's Sandwich Emporium

1170 S. Big Bend Blvd., Richmond Heights, MO

Category: Restaurant

Frida's Deli

622 N. and South Road, University City, MO

Category: Restaurant

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