Despite COVID-19’s lingering impact on the South Korean economy, the country saw a 4 percent growth last year, exhibiting a moderate performance on the back of strong exports and rebound of the global economy.
But mom-and-pop businesses, mostly those in the food and beverage industry, have been severely hit by repeated rounds of restrictions on business hours.
The pandemic has forced restaurants here to close by 9 p.m. each day under a business curfew, which was introduced to blunt a record surge in coronavirus. Latest government figures showed that restaurants saw their sales diminish by 9 percent last year compared to 2020, recording an average of 280 million won ($229,578) in revenue.
But there are some lucky ones that were able to endure the pandemic and recorded a steady rise in sales. Included on that list is Open. The local restaurant franchise company established in 2015 earned a total of 44 billion won last year.
He believes that his motivation for business expansion lies in people.
“Those working in the F&B business are normally paid less but work more. Their pay is about half the level compared to those in the US,” said Hong.
“They deserve better treatment. And that’s why I want to build a company that can grow and succeed in the long term, with talented, passionate people,” he said, adding that his company is prepared to teach employees culinary skills and provide compensation that are higher than the industry’s standard.