The renovation was finally completed. After placing ten tables with 44 chairs, the restaurant looked good. The restaurant sign hadn’t arrived yet. People said hanging a business sign should be the last thing he had to do before opening the restaurant door. He also prepared kitchen appliances and gadgets; there were a lot.
“I forgot to get kitchen cleaning cloths and I need a gas lighter. Oh, I should buy dish detergents and trash bags. What else? Let’s get aprons for kitchen workers from Daiso. I asked the next door owner if he knew any Korean Chinese woman who could work in my kitchen. I haven’t heard from him yet though.”
Gun-Ho searched the Internet to find an employment placement agency in Dongjak District. He called one of them.
“Hello? Is this the Employment agency? I need a kitchen worker lady.”
“Do you need her for a day?”
“No, I need someone who can work on a regular basis.”
“I don’t have anyone yet. If you leave your number, I will let you know once I find someone for you.”
Gun-Ho had to find a kitchen worker as soon as possible because his restaurant would open the following day. He went to Daerim Town where he was told that there was a lot of Korean-Chinese living there.
“Wow, this area looks like another country too. All those store signs are written in Chinese!”
Gun-Ho could find many employment agencies, and he knocked on the door of every single one of them. But unfortunately, since it was Sunday, they were all closed. Gun-Ho wrote down their numbers and agency names and came back to Noryangjin.
Monday came around.
“I really have to find someone who can work in my kitchen. The restaurant sign will be hung today!”
Once the clock hit 9 AM, Gun-Ho started making calls to the employment agencies in Daerim Town; he wrote down their numbers yesterday when he visited the town.
“Is this the Employment agency? I need someone who can work in a restaurant kitchen.”
“Do you need them for a day?”
“I need someone who could work every day!”
“Where is the restaurant located?”
“It’s in Noryangjin.”
“Where in Noryangjin?”
“It’s hard to give the direction by phone. If they could come to the Noryangjin Station, I will come and pick them up.”
“How many people do you need?”
“I need two people.”
“I don’t have the right people for you yet. I will give you a call later.”
Gun-Ho wanted to call another employment agency. While he was searching for the numbers he stored in his cell phone the other day, the agency he just talked with called him.
“I have two people right now for kitchen work. Can I tell them to go to the Noryangjin Station by 10:30 AM today?”
“Yes. It sounds good.”
“Give me your restaurant name and number. These women kitchen worker’s names are Ok-Lan Choi and Weol-Hwa Bang.”
As Gun-Ho wrote their names down, he giggled. Their names sounded so outdated.
Gun-Ho arrived at the Noryangjin Station at 10:30 AM. He walked up to the second floor where the waiting area was located. There were two old ladies standing. Gun-Ho thought they looked like Korean-Chinese.
“Are you Weol-Hwa Bang by any chance?”
“Oh, are you the owner of the Vietnamese restaurant?”
The ladies looked like they were in their early 60s. He hoped to see someone younger; their age worried him a bit. However, they seemed nice and he didn’t have time.
“Is the restaurant far from here?”
“It will take about ten minutes. Do you see the gas station across the street? The restaurant is on the back street behind that gas station.”
The women complained about the path leading to the restaurant while following Gun-Ho; it felt like a maze to them.
“I am not sure if I can find the restaurant tomorrow morning when I have to come by myself.”
“We are almost there. You will see the restaurant once you make a turn after the pharmacy over there.”
Gun-Ho saw a truck in front of his restaurant when he arrived with the two ladies.
“They are probably here for the restaurant sign!”
The truck seemed to have just arrived. The workers were unloading things from their truck.
Gun-Ho took the ladies to the kitchen.
“We will open tomorrow, but let’s try to make some noodle soup for practice. Do you know how to cook pho?”
“Of course. We have cooked pho when we were in China. By the way, do you have a hat here?”
“A hat? What hat?”
“You know the hat you wear in a kitchen so your hair won’t fly around.”
“Oh, that hat. I will get you the hat. Let’s cook without a hat for today.”
Gun-Ho didn’t know he had to prepare hats before working in a kitchen. There were tons of tedious things he had to prepare.
“How much do we get paid? And how many hours do we work?”
Gun-Ho had already asked the restaurant owners next to him about the pay and work hours of kitchen worker ladies. Gun-Ho offered about the same deal to the ladies.
“The work starts at 10 AM until 10 PM. Since the restaurant will stay open for those hours I decided the work schedule like that. The subway will be operational during those hours, so it shouldn’t cause any transportation problems for you.”
“Alright. That sounds good. Do we get a day off twice a month?”
“Yes, twice a month. And the monthly payment will be 1,900,000 won.”
“We used to get 2,000,000 won in our previous workplace.”
“Okay then. 2 million per month.”
The ladies were very experienced. They didn’t need to be told what to do in the kitchen. They knew what to prepare and how to prepare it. They cooked the noodles by placing them in the boiling water; they prepared onions and leeks proficiently. The way they prepared the meat was amazing. It seemed like Gun-Ho would be disturbing their work if he stayed in the kitchen.
“There were so many things missing in this kitchen. I will tell you what we need. Can you write them down?”
The ladies made a long list, and most of them were something that Gun-Ho had never thought of. Fortunately, Gun-Ho didn’t have to go to that market in Sindang Town to buy the things on the list. He could find them in Daiso or a local hardware store.
“Sir, could you come over here and take a look at the restaurant sign?”
Gun-Ho ran to the main entrance when he heard the restaurant name was up. The restaurant looked beautiful with its name hanging. Gun-Ho could hear a few pedestrians—probably exam takers—talking, “Uh? It’s a pho restaurant. Let’s come here later for our lunch today.”
Gun-Ho felt delighted.
“Nice. Exam takers seem to like Vietnamese noodles. I guess all I need to do from now on is to collect all the money.”
The neighboring restaurant owners came to see Gun-Ho’s restaurant with the restaurant sign up.
“It looks good. Do you open tomorrow?”
“Yes, I do.”
“I will definitely stop by for my meal.”
The standing signboard arrived in the afternoon. It was placed beside the main entrance. A customer entered the restaurant; he probably thought the restaurant was already open.
“I’m sorry. We will open tomorrow.”
Gun-Ho felt confident that he would easily sell 300 pho per day.
“I am going to sell the noodle soup for 3,500 won, so if I could sell 300 of them per day, I will make 1,050,000 won on a daily basis. That allowed me to make 31,500,000 won per month! Let’s not forget to take account of expenses: 10,000,000 won for ingredients, 4,000,000 for labor, 1,600,000 for the rent, and additional 1,000,000 won to cover any miscellaneous expenses. If subtracting all these expenses, the monthly profit will be 14,000,000 won per month!”
Gun-Ho was so excited.
“Maybe I could sell 400 per day.”
Gun-Ho started calculating with the calculator on his smartphone.
“Monthly sales are 42,000,000 won! Then I will make 20,000,000 won profit per month! Wow, I don’t have to be envious of those executives in a big company!”
Gun-Ho felt like he was floating on air.
The following day, Gun-Ho finally opened his restaurant.
The general contractor who renovated Gun-Ho’s restaurant and the store that delivered fresh produce to the restaurant sent congratulatory flower wreaths; they were displayed in front of the restaurant. A moment later, an orchid plant arrived. It was from Jong-Suk from Yangju City.
“Two flower wreaths and one orchid plant in front of the main entrance certainly add a vivid vibe to the restaurant!”
Gun-Ho couldn’t stop smiling. At that moment, he received a call from Jong-Suk.
“Bro! Congratulations! I will stop by after work.”
“You don’t have to. It’s too far from you. I received the orchid plant you sent. Thank you.”
Gun-Ho felt very encouraged. He was now a restaurant owner expecting to make a lot of money.