Korean Restaurant Owner’s Friends Volunteer to Wait Tables, Wash Dishes to Stay Open

Korean Restaurant Owner’s Friends Volunteer to Wait Tables, Wash Dishes to Stay OpenKorean Restaurant Owner’s Friends Volunteer to Wait Tables, Wash Dishes to Stay Open
Ryan General
September 24, 2020
A family-run restaurant in Toronto’s Koreatown is managing to stay afloat amid the COVID-19 pandemic thanks to some very helpful friends.
Trying to get by: Korean Village Restaurant, a popular establishment in Bloor Street West, has been struggling in recent months due to the current health crisis, according to the Toronto Sun.
  • A family of Korean immigrants opened the restaurant in 1978 and, through the decades, became a popular destination for Korean food across Toronto.
  • Celebrities such as Sandra Oh, Jackie Chan and chef Susur Lee have visited the restaurant, CBC reported.
  • Korea Village was among the businesses heavily impacted when COVID-19 hit because it was difficult to deliver many of the food items on their menu, such as the large, shared dishes or sizzling stone-bowl soups.
  • Jason Lee, who currently owns and manages the restaurant, lamented that he had to lay off most of his staff. 
  • Even with restaurants and indoor dining restrictions lifting, Lee wasn’t too optimistic about the restaurant’s chances as customers weren’t coming in as he hoped.
  • “I can’t imagine being able to survive very long given the current circumstances,” he was quoted as saying. 
Helping hand:  Since the start of the pandemic, over 30 small businesses have closed in Koreatown. With Korean Village on the brink of shutting down, Andrew Oporto, a frequent customer and a longtime friend of Lee’s, offered to help. 
  • Oporto, an actor/comedian, offered to lend his free time and work for him since the entertainment industry has also been slow. 
  • “Jason was so stressed out, I said, ‘You need help serving?'”
  • According to Oporto, he simply can’t bear to lose his favorite restaurant in the city.
  • Despite the double looks for being the restaurant’s first-ever non-Korean server, Lee says Oporto is doing an “incredible job.”
  • Another friend of Lee has volunteered to wash the dishes for free.
  • Lee, who is grateful for the help during the restaurant’s most trying times, says he is determined to carry on his mother’s legacy.
  • “I have a deep passion for this restaurant, for the food, for the people who have come here and supported us over the years,” Lee shared.
Featured Image Screenshots via CBC
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