The COVID-19 pandemic has forced many companies to reconsider their approach as the world shuts down to prevent the spread of the deadly disease. Kong Tofu Korean Restaurant and Korean Grill on Stevens Creek Blvd. They rose to the challenge and kept moving forward, and their business grew bigger despite the obstacles thrown in their way.
Before the pandemic hit the US in March 2020, the Korean restaurant always had a steady stream of customers due to its adherence to the principles of health and deliciousness. With its advantage over many other stores, the restaurant attracted hundreds of people daily.
JD Kim, 72, owner of Kong Tofu & Korean BBQ, came to the US from South Korea when he was 50 and brought hometown delicacies to California.
The epidemic hit him and his restaurant hard.
“During the pandemic, our business has dropped by about 50%. Last year has been a very difficult year for me,” Kim said. “Not only my restaurant, but also our neighboring businesses have been affected by COVID-19. “
However, while some businesses have ended up closing during the pandemic, Kong Tofu & Korean BBQ has chosen to think carefully about how to maintain and grow their business by thinking about their customers. Kim said they are attracting customers by focusing on better menu images while offering more takeout options.
Belen Campos is a server at Kong Tofu & Korean BBQ who also takes care of her two young children. She always aims to provide an enjoyable experience to all customers and fulfill her duties in the restaurant to the best of her abilities.
“My day job is to bring meals from the kitchen to the guests,” Campos said. “I am happy to see people enjoying their meals.”
Campos said she is satisfied with her work here, and has a flexible schedule according to her needs. She can choose to work day or night, which gives her enough energy to take care of her children.
“When I work here, even though I sometimes feel very tired, most of the time my boss is so considerate and gives me time to rest,” Campos said. “Working here makes me feel at home.”
Zuxiong Tan is a customer who came to Kong Tofu & Korean BBQ for the first time after a friend recommended to go to the restaurant and try their food.
“I love Asian food, especially Korean food,” Tan said. “There are many good Korean restaurants in the Bay Area, so I try different Korean restaurants regularly.”
Tan ordered seafood ramen and said he was very satisfied with the flavor of this dish. He sensed that this ramen tasted distinctly Korean, which reminded him of eating the same dish in Seoul in 2019. Tan hopes to return to the restaurant again in the future – the location is convenient and there are many shops to explore nearby.
“My friend is a big Korean lover, so you brought me here this time,” Zhuxiong said. “She said it was one of her favorite restaurants.”
Undeniably, local restaurants and businesses have been through hard times over the past two years while trying to maintain their business under very unusual and stressful conditions. Kim said that over time, companies will recover and see more growth — and he’s already seeing some of that growth this year.
This year, the epidemic has been gradually brought under control, and I believe the business will do much better. “I will stick to healthy food in the future,” Kim said, “We have gone through the toughest times and I am sure our restaurant will get better and better. I love Korean food very much and I hope to serve the most delicious Korean food to everyone.”