The COVID-19 pandemic forced many businesses to reconsider their approach as the world locked down to prevent the spread of the deadly disease. Korean restaurant Kong Tofu & Korean BBQ on Stevens Creek Blvd. rose to the challenge and persisted onwards, growing their business even further despite the obstacles thrown their way.
Before the pandemic hit the United States in March 2020, the Korean restaurant had always had a steady stream of customers because of its adherence to the principles of health and deliciousness. With a prime location by many other shops, the restaurant attracted hundreds of people daily.
J.D. Kim, 72, the owner of Kong Tofu & Korean BBQ, came to the United States from South Korea when he was 50 years old and brought the deliciousness and delicacies of his hometown to California.
The pandemic hit him and his restaurant hard.
“During the pandemic, our business was down about 50%. The past year has been a very tough year for me,” Kim said. “Not only my restaurant, but also the companies next to us have been affected by COVID-19. ”
However, while some businesses ended up closing down during the pandemic, Kong Tofu & Korean BBQ chose to carefully consider how to maintain and grow their business by thinking of their customers. Kim said that they attract customers by focusing on better looking pictures for the menu while also introducing more takeout options.
Belen Campos is a server at Kong Tofu & Korean BBQ who is also caring for her two young children. She always aims to give a pleasant experience to all customers and fulfil her duties at the restaurant to the best of her abilities.
“My day job is to bring meals from the kitchen to the guests,” said Campos. “I am happy to see people enjoying their meals.”
Campos said that she is satisfied with her work here, and she has a flexible schedule according to her needs. She can choose to work during the day or at night, which gives her enough energy to take care of her children.
“When I work here, although sometimes I am very tired, most of the time my boss will be considerate of me and give me enough time to rest,” Campos said. “Working here makes me feel like home.”
Zuxiong Tan is a customer came to Kong Tofu & Korean BBQ for the first time after a friend recommended going to the restaurant and trying out their food.
“I like 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 the Seafood Ramen and said he was very satisfied with the flavor of this dish. He felt that the taste of this ramen is 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 she brought me here this time,” Tan said. “She said it is one of her favorite restaurants.”
Undeniably, local restaurants and businesses have come under hard times during the past two years while trying to maintain their business under extremely unusual and stressful conditions. Kim said that with time, businesses will recover and see even more growth — and he’s already seeing some of that growth this year.
“This year, the epidemic has gradually come under control, and I believe business will get better and better. I will stick to healthy food in the future,” Kim said, “We have had the toughest time, and I am sure our restaurant will get better and better. I love Korean food very much and I hope to introduce the most delicious Korean food to everyone.”