Shaun White surprises PyeongChang restaurant owner, shows up to eat namesake burger

Restaurant owner Cha Gwen So added a Flying Tomato hamburger to the menu of his PyeongChang restaurant ahead of the Olympics.

The burger named after snowboarding icon Shaun White, whose nickname is the Flying Tomato, is priced at one million won, which works out to around $920. While the number doesn’t look nearly as big after conversion, that’s still a pricey burger.

The description of the burger on the menu reads as follows:

“The best special thing, This is only for Shaun White, My wish for your gold medal.”

So clearly, that’s a promotional gimmick. Nobody would ever order a burger at that price. And even if they wanted to, only White is allowed to eat it. It says so right no the menu. So Cha would never end up serving one.

Or would he?

That is Shaun White. And that must be the Flying Tomato burger on his plate.

Cha confirmed with Reuters that the video posted above by White’s coach J.J. Thomas was of White in his restaurant.

“Is it real? This is Shaun White? It is not a dream? Shaun White tells me it is real. Oh my God, unbelievable,” Cha told Reuters. “He ordered from me the Flying Tomato Burger and so I cook it for him. Today is a very happy day.”

Shaun White gave a thrill to a local restaurant owner in Pyeongchang. (Reuters)

What a thrill. Even more so because Cha is a snowboard instructor.

Though the reason Cha is serving up the burger isn’t such a happy one. Cha told Reuters that he started serving burgers this winter when his snowboarding business suffered because of the Games.

Cha has one of many local snow sports businesses that dried up this winter because PyeongChang’s resources have been completely dedicated to the Olympics. Slopes that are usually open for business are now dedicated to the Games.

“The resort closed on Jan. 21 and so they lost their jobs,” Cha said of local retailers. “They can’t earn money and they are losing money every day. Every day maybe two million won they lost. They are upset. The government doesn’t want to talk with them.”

Yahoo’s Jay Busbee reports that an estimated 50 shops have closed because of the Games. The business owners say they aren’t being reimbursed by the government for their losses and are upset that the government did not prepare for the impact on the local economy.

A large banner at Phoenix Park, where the snowboarding events are taking place reads: “2018 PyeongChang olympic kill us! keep our right to live!”

So while White’s visit to Cha’s restaurant was a happy moment for the chef, it also shone a light on a difficult issue for PyeongChang locals.

Fortunately for Cha, it sounds like his restaurant is helping him weather his suffering snowboard business. That one million won price tag on the burger? He waived it for his snowboarding hero.

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