The realtor was enthusiastic in making a sales pitch for the bar.
“A store priced at 150 million won is very popular among baby boomers. It often gets highly competitive to acquire it these days. The baby boomers—the people who were born around the 6.25 Korean War are retiring now. After having worked for 30 years, their retirement pay is more or less 150 million won. What would they do with that money? The easy business they pick after their retirement is a restaurant business. That’s why a 150 million won store is quick to sell.”
Gun-Ho realized again that the 500 million won he was holding was a significant amount of money. He wanted to keep the money and grow it at all costs. However, he didn’t like the store he just visited.
“So, how was it? Do you like the store?”
“I am not so sure. I will have to think about it before I make a decision.”
“You don’t have to think about it. If a person at your age takes over the store, it will succeed 100%. Let’s go back to my office and make a contract.”
“No, no. I will need some time to think about it.”
“Haha. You have a lot of things in your mind for a young person. Then give me your contact number. I will call you right away once I get the final price from the owner.”
Gun-Ho was somewhat in a difficult position. He didn’t want to give the realtor his number but the realtor was tenacious and stubborn. Gun-Ho eventually gave the realtor his cell phone number.
“What about those roadside stores? They are beautiful.”
“They are way more expensive, over 300 million won. In addition, there is no available store for sale.”
Gun-Ho thought just for a moment that maybe he should get one of those 300 million won store, and then changed his mind immediately.
“Quit it. You don’t have any experience at all in running your own business. You could blow the money.” Gun-Ho talked to himself.
After meeting with the realtor, Gun-Ho walked further around the Hongik University Street. All the stores on the street looked the same after he saw so many stores already.
“Well, since I am here, let’s go to the Sinchon Town. It’s not far from here. That area must be well established for a business like here since Yonsei University and Ewha Women’s University are there.”
Gun-Ho slowly walked toward the Yonsei University entrance from Sinchon Hyundai Department Store.
“There are tons of people here too. I see a lot of people and stores everywhere.”
The Sinchon town had a bit different vibe from the Hongik University area. However, the sales price for stores should be as expensive as the ones in the Hongik University area. Gun-Ho almost entered a realtor’s office when he saw one there. Realtors could be very tiresome when they tried to convince a person persistently to buy a property.
“So all these young people pouring into the street are students of either Yonsei University or Ewha Women’s University? When I was in high school in Bucheon, only the ones who were ranked first or second could get into these top universities. But here are a lot of those people.”
As he was walking down the street while enjoying watching people and stores, Gun-Ho arrived at the main entrance of the Ewha Women’s University. He could see some Chinese tourists as well.
“For a restaurant, the selection of food and the location are the key.”
He took pictures of some stores with attractive interior or unique store name.
“I had enough for today. Let’s try Garosugil Road in Gangnam and Konkuk University area tomorrow.”
The following day, Gun-Ho took the subway at the Noryangjin Station heading to Banpo Express Bus Terminal to change to the subway line 3.
“So I need to get off at the Sinsa Subway Station and walk toward Apgujeong Town to get to the Garosugil Road.”
Gun-Ho arrived at the Garosugil Road after crossing the street from Youngdong Hotel. He looked around the Garosugil Road area and went to the Konkuk University area in the afternoon. He felt a bit dizzy and confused; he probably saw too many stores to digest at once.
“Having an expensive store in this area will make me look really nice, but I don’t want to risk that much money. Maybe I should start with Noryangjin; the stores are not so pricey there. The problem there though is low ATV (Average Transaction Value) even though there is high traffic of people.”
Gun-Ho was leaning toward Noryangjin rather than these strange areas; Norayangjin was familiar to him since he spent a few years there when he had studied for the level-9 government job exam.
“The exam preparers in Noryangjin don’t have much money in their pockets, so relatively cheap food like Vietnamese noodle will work. I don’t expect to make 90 million won per month like that pho restaurant Suk-Ho mentioned. The monthly sales of 30 million won will be enough for me… That will allow me to make a 10 million won profit every month.”
Gun-Ho wrapped his head around.
“If I make 10 million won per month, then I would make the same amount an office worker makes in a big company with over 100 million won yearly salary… Okay, let’s focus on the Noryangjin area. It’s close to my home. According to the book I read, it’s better to have a business close to home.”
Gun-Ho came back to Noryangjin.
Noryangjin had certainly very different vibe from the area around the Hongik University or Konkuk University. The street was narrow and people there were exam preparers who suffered from enormous stress on a daily basis, while people in those universities areas were neat and well-dressed. The Noryangjin area was definitely dingy. When it got dark outside, the street was filled with people.
“So all these people are the potential customers who would let me make money.”
Gun-Ho smiled delightedly while watching the people passing by on the street.
“This is it. It has to be Noryangjin. I don’t need complex recipes to please these people. I just need to be generous on the quantity.”
Gun-Ho visited a Vietnamese noodle soup restaurant.
“I believe I’ve been here once when I studied for the exam. Oh, they have POS stands (Point-Of-Sale) outside the main entrance. Let me get the number to reserve my turn. Wow! My number is 24! That means all these people standing here are waiting for their table.”
After a while, Gun-Ho could have his noodle soup.
“Hmm, the noodle soup is so so… But with the price of 3,500 won, people would choose this over the Cupbab (Cooked rice with other ingredients served in a paper cup). This noodle soup is simple and fast to eat; you can just slurp it with the soup. It is served in a hot soup, so the exam preparers will like it.”
Gun-Ho walked out of the restaurant. He was smoking in front of the Shinhan Bank when he received a call from Jong-Suk.
“Bro? I heard you met with Suk-Ho bro in Gyeongridan Street.”
“Yeah, I did.”
“How was it? Was it helpful?”
“He said a Thai restaurant hit a jackpot there.”
“A Thai restaurant? Bro, you are staying in Noryangjin, aren’t you? Why don’t you open a Thai restaurant there?”
“Man, I have no idea how to cook Thai food. I’ve never been to that country.”
“You can easily find the recipes on the Internet. In Noryangjin, the food doesn’t have to be authentic. As long as you serve the people there with a large amount of food, it will work since they are exam preparers with small pocket money.”
“I am not sure.”
“If you want to open a restaurant in one of those university areas or Garosugil Road, you have to pay a high price for the store and the food has to be delicious. You didn’t go to school for cooking. You have never worked in a restaurant. Right? Start in Noryangjin. You don’t have much money, bro. Even though there is someone who is willing to invest, it should be less than 100 million won, right?”
Gun-Ho felt an urge to scream, “Kid, I am a person with 500 million won in my hand.”
“I am planning to stop by a realtor’s office tomorrow. How about Kalguksu (a Korean noodle soup) and name it like mother’s Kalguksu or something, or Sujebi (a Korean hand-pulled dough soup)? I heard there is a very popular Vietnamese noodle soup restaurant here.”
“You have to come up with something unique. There are people in Noryangjin, who consider their mealtime as a food trip. I was one of them when I was in Noyrangjin.”
“I see. I will have to look further tomorrow.”
Gun-Ho got up late. He started searching on the Internet.
“Hmm, I can find ingredients for a Vietnamese noodle soup, Thai food, and Philippines food in Ansan. There is a wholesaler there.”
Gun-Ho continued searching on the Internet.
“If I buy these ingredients online, I can easily get scammed. Let’s visit that wholesale store in Ansan. I think I can open a Vietnamese noodle soup restaurant behind the gas station even though there is one already in Noryangjin. Let’s not be greedy, but set the goal with 10 million won per month.”
Gun-Ho thought it should be okay to open another Vietnamese noodle soup restaurant behind the gas station even though there was one already in the same area. That one was distant from the location Gun-Ho was considering. He would invest 100 million won for now and hid the remaining 400 million won somewhere safe. Even if he was threatened by a robber for his life, Gun-Ho thought he would never ever let anyone take that money.