Joondalup mayor’s actions help Kulcha restaurant owner

Kulcha Cafe and Noodle House may have been the victim of an “elaborate set-up”, according to Joondalup Mayor Troy Pickard.        d449736
Kulcha Cafe and Noodle House may have been the victim of an “elaborate set-up”, according to Joondalup Mayor Troy Pickard.        d449736

It follows an incident last week when a Kulcha Cafe and Noodle House diner posted a photo to Facebook of a used napkin she found in her rice pot.

She said she was halfway through her meal when she found the napkin “stuck to the next spoonful” she was about to have.

“Therefore I can only assume the rice beneath was certainly not fresh or new”, she said.

The photo prompted others to post on Kulcha’s Facebook page, generating both negative and supportive comments.

A couple of days later, Mr Pickard made a public post on his mayoral Facebook page stating he was “surprised” by the incident.

He said Kulcha, a small family-run business, had been operating in Joondalup for more than a decade with “an excellent reputation and unblemished record”.

“I have conducted my own investigations and am now intrigued by this incident as the serviette shown is not one used by the restaurant,” he said.

“On the same day this photo was taken, a gentleman with some history over a disputed bill at Kulcha presented a serviette much like the one taken in this photo and asked for it to be filled with rice.”

Mr Pickard believed it was an “elaborate set-up”.

In a second Facebook post a few days later, he said as Joondalup mayor he was “more than happy to bring to account traders who flout appropriate health standards” just the same as he would “stand up for local traders who have been wrongly done by”.

Speaking to the Weekender, he said knowing the photo of the incident had gone viral on Facebook, he felt it was appropriate to “provide some of the findings of my own investigations to the public so people were aware there’s actually two sides to the story”.

“This is so often the case on social media where something gets a life of its own and invariably it’s not accurate but is taken as gospel,” he said.

“When you’re talking about a business, you’re talking about somebody’s livelihood, their reputation and it’s very serious.

“Some people have said to me ‘why didn’t you wait for the City’s investigation, then make a public statement’, but the trouble is this went viral overnight and the City’s investigation is going to take several weeks.

“The challenge I faced was, do I let a local business’s brand be battered by social media, unjustifiably so, for weeks… or following my own investigations and being absolutely comfortable with the information I had, make a public statement and try to counter the viral campaign.

“I’m comfortable with what I did.”

Kulcha owner John Tran said he did not know the mayor before the incident but was very happy for his support.

He said the restaurant had been in Joondalup for 14 years and in that time, he had experienced “too many people trying to eat for free”.

Mr Tran said when Mr Pickard approached him and asked to conduct his own investigations, he was more than happy to open his doors to the mayor, City health officials and the police.

“I told him ‘if I’ve done wrong, please tell me so I can fix it’,” he said.

He said he saw the mayor’s Facebook post stating the restaurant was not at fault and was very pleased.

“He (Mr Pickard) wants all small businesses in Joondalup to run smoothly,” Mr Tran said.Mr Pickard said he would be meeting soon with the diners who found the napkin, City health officers and the police to discuss the matter further.