Impersonated Vegas Restaurants Sue Uber Eats

Posted on: April 25, 2024, 10:17h. 

Last updated on: April 25, 2024, 10:50h.

He threatened legal action, and now he’s taking it.

James Trees, the owner of Esther’s Kitchen in Las Vegas and a 2020 James Beard Award nominee, found a lawyer friend to take his case. (Image: KNPR)

James Trees, the chef-owner of Esther’s Kitchen, has filed a class-action suit against Uber Eats, along with three other Las Vegas restaurants. The suit claims the website and app allow scammer food-preparers “to use false identities that co-opted known restaurants brands and identities … to siphon business for themselves using the goodwill created by the actual business owners.”

How can you allow businesses to be impersonated and damage people’s reputations on your platform?” Trees asked Uber Eats in a Facebook post this week. “I wonder which one of my lawyer friends wants to sue a giant company for allowing garbage restaurants to impersonate the business that I built from the ground up?”

Esther’s Kitchen is joined by Gaetano’s Ristorante, Manizza’s Pizza, and BabyStacks Café in the class-action suit, which was filed Wednesday in Clark County District Court.

Impasta Syndrome

AI renders a photo of a restaurant named “Pizza & Impasta.” (Image: ChatGPT)

Nearly 20 impostor websites were found posing as respected Sin City restaurants on Uber Eats, as well as on Grubhub and other food-delivery apps. (But most were on Uber Eats.)

“The Uber Eats website and app allowed for any individual to claim to be a restaurant in Nevada, without requiring reasonable authentication from the requesting party,” claims the lawsuit, which alleges fraud, conversion of funds, civil RICO, racketeering, and negligence.

In addition to Uber, the lawsuit also names Rasier LLC (the payroll company through which Uber pays its drivers), Berchman Melancon (the management firm that oversees Uber Eats in Nevada), and other individuals and entities whose names were withheld.

Uber Eats removed all the impostor websites earlier this week, following media reports, including ours, that exposed the scam. The lawsuit seeks unspecified compensation for the damage already done, as well as Uber’s 30% cut of all orders made by the impostor restaurants.

“At a minimum, the Uber Defendants knew or should have known that the actual restaurants were not the restaurants utilizing their web service, and that honest restaurants were being harmed as a result,” the suit reads.

Order in the Court

To avoid ordering from scammers in the future, it’s best to phone the number listed on a restaurant’s legit web page and ask if they deliver via the app you want to use, or, even more simply, to cross-check the address on the delivery app with the one listed on Yelp, where it’s a good idea to always check a restaurant’s reviews first anyway.

For instance, the real Esther’s Kitchen is located at 1131 S. Main St. in downtown Las Vegas. Esther’s Italian Pasta Kitchen, the impostor name on Uber Eats, listed its address as 10890 S. Eastern Ave., Suite 107, in Henderson. That’s the physical address of a restaurant called NY Pizza & Bagel Café.

The address listed on Uber Eats for Gaetano’s Ristorante, a respected family-owned establishment serving Henderson, Nev. for 20 years, matched the Chinatown address of Boss Pizza, a joint with only 1.5 Yelp stars. Its address was also featured in the impostor listing for Solamente Pizza.