“It’s a win-win situation,” Kim says.
Stay True to You
A dedication to whole, fresh, sustainable ingredients is one of Seoul Food’s defining characteristics, one the Gorees don’t want to lose sight of as they dabble in convenience. Their menu, developed by Anna and inspired by her upbringing in South Korea, is crafted from local chicken and grass-fed beef, organic tofu, cage-free eggs and 100% pole- and troll-caught skipjack tuna. These “honest” foods, as they call them, are important to the Gorees from a moral standpoint, and also from one of health.
“We don’t need so much salt and fat. We don’t need foods to be so processed that you don’t recognize the ingredients,” Jon says.
In the food-truck industry, which is seemingly dominated by sandwiches, the Gorees grew comfortable being the black sheep. “So being in a gas station with their roller dogs and honey buns doesn’t faze us at all,” he says. “We have so many new converts from people going outside their normal comfort zone.”
Jon finds many c-store customers pleasantly surprised by what they taste at Seoul Food. The surprise factor is exactly what interested Kim in Seoul Food in the first place. “Seoul Food is fusion Korean food not typically found in this area,” Kim says. “If the food is unique, then it is worth adding in a store to create new customer flow.”
Saving money on rent and advertising affords Seoul Food the opportunity to get the highest-quality meats and produce the Gorees can find. With their limited storage space, they order ingredients almost every day, causing customers to constantly comment on the food’s freshness.
“When they see us, they almost have to pinch themselves and rub their eyes, because we seem so out of place,” Jon says.
The Gorees still run the food truck in Arlington three days a week, but they leave it parked in front of the gas station when it’s not in use. The truck is great advertising for the restaurant, and the restaurant is a great “staging area” for the truck. Eventually, the Gorees would like to open a larger flagship restaurant and franchise Seoul Food, but for now, they have more than enough on their plate.