Oakland mine chief Matt Horn settles with ex-business partner

Matt Horn, owner of famed Auckland restaurant Horn Barbecue, has settled a lawsuit brought by former business partner David Kyuman Kim, which claims Kim worked for free and was unfairly kicked out of the business.

Kim’s attorney, executive director of Stanford’s Center for Comparative Race and Ethnic Studies, confirmed to SFGATE that the lawsuit was settled. A representative for Horne also confirmed that the lawsuit was settled, but declined to comment further. Details of the lawsuit were first reported by the San Francisco Chronicle. (SFGATE and the San Francisco Chronicle are both owned by Hearst but operate independently of each other.)

The lawsuit isn’t Horn’s only recent allegation of financial troubles. Last week, SFGATE reported on other financial woes facing the restaurateur, including unpaid invoices and bounced tickets. Horn addressed some of the concerns raised in the story in a Facebook post earlier this week.

In a complaint filed by Kim in September 2021 and recently reviewed by SFGATE, the former business partner claims that after meeting Horne in April 2019, he became integral to Horn’s then-thriving business plan In part, assisting with “public relations and bringing in investors.” Kim also claims he invested $3,000 in exchange for a 5% stake in Horn Hospitality Group and was named president of the business, working long hours without pay. Horn eventually made him a “low-paying offer,” which he declined, the indictment said. He claimed that in June 2021, Kim was demoted and then completely eliminated from the company.

The horn “didn’t pay [Kim] For his employment as President at the time of his departure or at any other time, and also for failing to reimburse reasonably necessary business expenses,” the lawsuit alleges.

Horn Barbecue opened in October 2020. During a press event a few days before the grand opening, a SFGATE reporter spoke to Kim about the restaurant; at the time, he described himself as “President of Horn Hospitality Group.” A year later, SFGATE published another story about Horn, which mentioned his collaboration with Kim. Shortly after publication, a Horn representative emailed reporters to say that Kim was no longer part of the Horn Hospitality Group and that he “never officially served as president of Horn Hospitality.” The representative did not respond to a request for more information.

The complaint makes clear that King sees his role in Horn’s success as enormous. “It’s hard to imagine how Horn Barbecue would have opened without plaintiff Kim’s hard work and perseverance — let alone during a pandemic,” the complaint states.

Representatives for neither Kim nor Horn have confirmed when the case will be resolved, but court documents were released on Oct. 1. 17, indicating that the settlement is the closest.

SFGATE reporter Susana Guerrero contributed to this story.

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