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More Allegations of Mishandled Funds Against Wormwood Owners

A former Be Saha employee and the restaurant's general manager shares her experience with the hospitality group
Courtesy of Wormwood

When she was tapped to become general manager of Wormwood in 2021, Tawny Mayers was initially thrilled by the opportunity, she says. For 10 years, she’d worked her way up at Kettner Exchange, eventually becoming assistant general manager. She felt ready to take the reins at a buzzy new spot with what she calls “a great team,” including Danny and Dante Romero (Two Ducks, The Lion’s Share) and Ben Marquart (Ironside, Counterpoint).

“I was super excited,” she says. “[Now] I could say I was probably a little naïve.”

Mayers says she was pulling “double duty,” opening Wormwood without an AGM while also consulting at Tahona, another restaurant under the Be Saha Hospitality umbrella. But before Wormwood officially opened, she told SDM, she was paid with handwritten checks. “It immediately was kind of alarming,” she adds. 

It wasn’t long, Mayers continues, before she started seeing other red flags, like regularly bounced payroll checks and vendor nonpayment—allegations which were first reported by other news outlets in San Diego. One of San Diego Magazine’s sources, who wishes to remain anonymous, corroborated this pattern. 

According to interviews, as well as screenshots sent to San Diego Magazine, both Mayers and the anonymous former employee tried to bring payroll and vendor payment issues to Be Saha founder Amar Harrag’s attention, to no avail. They both independently describe being paid by Venmo or Zelle on occasion, and Mayers provided screenshots of conversations related to the bounced checks and alternative payments for employees and vendors. 

In early 2023, Be Saha partnered with Oram Holdings to oversee food and beverage operations at the Guild Hotel in downtown San Diego after the hotel’s $80 million redevelopment. However, according to CBS8, when Be Saha’s contract expired at the end of May 2024, employees quickly went public with accusations of nonpayment of final wages, even protesting in front of Wormwood on Wednesday, June 5. CBS reports that Harrag and the Guild Hotel both believe the other party is responsible for final wages. However, Mayers is skeptical. 

“This was never a problem at the Guild Hotel before. So why is it suddenly a problem, and it’s their fault?” she wonders. Other Be Saha projects, such as Wormwood, Tahona, Hidden Craft, and Oculto 477 Speakeasy, are still operating. Mayers left Wormwood in 2023 and now works at The Whaling Bar in La Jolla. While she was initially hesitant to speak out, she says the recent revelations have been a long time coming. 

“Somebody needs to say something,” she adds. “I don’t want to see anybody else go through what we’ve all been through.”

San Diego Magazine has contacted Be Saha Group and Oram Holdings for comment. As of the time of publication, they have not responded. This article will be updated if and when Be Saha Group and Oram Holdings respond.

Chef Sebastian Becerra who is working a food pop up for Father's Day at Found Studio in La Jolla
Courtesy of Sebastian Becerra

San Diego Restaurant News & Food Events

Riviera on the Rocks

Cocktails by Lucas Ryden (Cool Hand Co.), wine, food from Sebastian Becerra (Pepino), and tunes by Hendo Froth help kick off summer at Found Studio (5490 La Jolla Boulevard) on Sunday, June 16 from 2 to 5 p.m. In honor of Father’s Day, dads and father figures get discounted drinks and free wine shots from 1 to 2 p.m. as part of a VIP “Dad Hour.” Best of all? Entry to the event is totally free. 

Rubio's Coastal Grill a San Diego-based food chain that filed for bankruptcy this week
Courtesy of Rubio’s Coastal Grill

Beth’s Bites

Less money, mo’ problems, fewer tacos. Rubio’s Coastal Grill has now, for the second time, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, just days after closing 13 storefronts in San Diego. The Carlsbad-based chain says the restaurants that are currently open will remain so, but it would seem the salsa has hit the fan.

Tomorrow, Friday, June 7, the owners of Las Hadas Bar & Grill at 558 4th Avenue are opening a new venture—Freddy’s Chophouse—right next door at 554 4th Avenue, the former The Patricios space. No word yet on what the full concept or menu will be. Hopefully more steak.

Dumplings N More is slated to open in Escondido at 1507 East Valley Parkway, Suite 1. The original location in Hillcrest serves favorites like xiao long bao, dim sum, dumplings, noodles, and, well, more. I’m especially fond of the Big Buns (try the braised pork).

Have breaking news, exciting scoops, or great stories about new San Diego restaurants or the city’s food scene? Send your pitches to [email protected].

By Beth Demmon

Beth Demmon is an award-winning writer and podcaster whose work regularly appears in national outlets and San Diego Magazine. Her first book, The Beer Lover's Guide to Cider, is now available. Find out more on

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