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