Evansville restaurant owner details his months-long battle with COVID-19

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EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WFIE) – Gangnam Korean BBQ in downtown Evansville was closed for several months late last year as their owner battled for his life in hospital with COVID-19.

Joe Kim fought COVID for two months and spent three weeks in Deaconess Midtown. Doctors recommended that he be put on a ventilator.

“They were like ‘you need to be hospitalized, you’re not getting oxygen,'” Kim said.

Kim says keeping a restaurant afloat during a global pandemic has created many challenges.

In September 2021, he faces a new challenge when he is forced to close his restaurant.

“I didn’t want to do my customers a disservice, and I thought it was a health risk to be around any of the employees or family members,” Kim said.

In total, he spent three weeks away from his family, his restaurant and his employees.

“Your employees, they have to survive too, and I feel really bad for them. If I can’t afford them for two months, that’s a big concern,” Kim said.

Although he fought a life-and-death battle, Kim says his restaurant was all he could think of.

“We’re coming back strong,” Kim said. “We have new main courses and people love our food. I had to redo the whole menu during this period, it gave me time to rethink what I need to do, redefine the strategy and modify the business plan.

Gangnam Korean BBQ reopened the first week of November, but much like their owner, the restaurant has seen a slow recovery.

“We didn’t have a lot of customers coming back right after we opened because they thought we were closed for good,” Kim said.

He wants everyone to know that Gangnam Korean BBQ is open again, with a new and improved menu, ready to serve customers again.

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