Innovative advice on business actions
Many of our loyal readers already know that Dave and I enjoy celebrating conscious and proactive entrepreneurs who are working to make a difference in the world while serving. Today I am delighted to highlight a local Kootenay based business with this wonderful discussion below.
We met Narae Kang, owner of Kimchi Kitchen, when we saw a post on social media offering a fantastic opportunity for other local businesses – a free (10×6) vinyl decal displayed on her mobile kitchen unit. A small detail for your customers to browse while they wait for their food.
From a marketing standpoint, I saw your selfless, non-promotional post as a great way to reach out to the community. Dave and I, for example, had heard of the truck, but had not yet been customers; however, once we buy a meal there, we are definitely customers now. So are dozens of other people who saw the post, were so impressed that they responded by saying they would be coming to buy from the truck soon, and asked others to support such a selfless business. So while Kimchi Kitchen was not intended to come from a marketing angle at all … the result was that they gained popularity, achieved greater exposure to a highly specific market, and created a very robust networking system with dozens of other companies. premises, including ourselves.
When Dave put down our ad stickers, he also ordered the sweet chili chicken (see picture), which was delicious and so generous in help that Dave and I fed ourselves 3 separate meals each! As you can see from the pictures, this dish came with these big yellow pickles that Dave and I guessed what they were. I was thinking maybe Kholrabi or chestnut, using a turmeric based pickle brine. Dave guessed correctly: it was “… a Korean pickled Daikon (radish),” Narae explained. “I use gardenia powder to make it yellow.”
I asked Narae to tell us a little about her and this is what she had to say: “I was born in South Korea, I moved to Canada after marrying this amazing man in Calgary. Our goal was to move to the Kootenay region (BC, Canada) since we got married. Thanks to my husband’s carpentry skills and my enthusiasm for Korean food, we opened Kimchi Kitchen in May 2019. “
As an environmentally conscious customer, I noticed the compostable take out packaging right away and was curious about its composition. Narae explained that the entire food truck and street food industry is changing: “Shell containers are made from sugar cane. Yes, they are expensive. But the surprising thing is that I am not the only one using these types of containers. Most of the food trucks I know also choose environmentally friendly packaging. “
Turns out, there is a very practical reason for choosing these options. “Initially my main goal was to go to festivals and events in the Kootenay region, such as the Kaslo Jazz Festival or Starbelly Jam. Most festivals have a zero waste policy and I admire their efforts to save our environment. I wanted to join. to your movement. Although all those important events are canceled due to COVID, I use wooden forks and chopsticks instead of plastic ones. “
The couple’s dedication to the environment is admirable. “I have a fully electric car; I swapped it out with my truck last year. I am 1000% satisfied with my choice and I encourage people to go electric. It has tons of benefits. I also have 16 chickens and a rooster. They take care of our kitchen scraps and give me beautiful, healthy eggs in return. The rest goes to my compost bin. Chicken manure is given to neighbors who have a garden and they share some vegetables with me. “
This couple had many reasons for choosing the hard life of being an entrepreneur. “Two main reasons,” he explains, “one was the child I support. When I just moved here I couldn’t find a full-time job. Everything available at the time was seasonal, minimum wage, or the job was too far away. One girl in Honduras through World Vision. Maria – the name of a girl I wanted to give her if she ever had a daughter. I tried but couldn’t support her anymore without an income in the winter. That’s when I decided to open a food truck. The first year, my goal was to support her throughout the year. The second year, my goal is to send her chickens as a Christmas present (and I’m working on it). The second reason is the movie “The Chef”, based on the true story. from a ‘Kogi’ food truck in California. Roy Choi is now a famous Korean-American chef, who became my role model. “
Being an entrepreneur in those times (when events are limited and budgets are keeping customers at home), Kimchi Kitchen has learned to adapt, finding alternative ways to overcome a variety of challenges. “The first year I opened, surprisingly people had a pretty good knowledge of Korean food. Living in a city where there is very little Korean population, that was something to think about. Why don’t we have a good Korean restaurant here? featured those classic dishes that people know well: Korean Chicken, Bibimbap, Bulgogi, Kimchi, etc., which was a hit. However, since I introduced those foods in town, other pubs and restaurants started a similar menu with the same name. I had to think of something else. To stand out, I introduced the trendy Korean street food, such as vegetarian meatballs with gochujang sauce. Leaving an exclusive element: the sweet chili chicken … The constant change of the menu draws the attention of people; special changes every week. Like last year’s Galbi burger: people keep harassing me to make it again … My original goal was to go to festivals and events mainly. Since these e Winds are not happening at the moment, I parked my r food in one place and open to serve lunch or dinner from Wednesday to Sunday. Since I have to travel 2 hours (roundtrip) from my home to Creston, I cannot serve lunch and dinner while taking care of a lot of animals at home. “
Kimchi Kitchen primarily uses social media to share truck hours, expected location for particular dates, and any special menu changes. Since more than 90% of their customers are local, they find that word of mouth has been their best promotional tool yet. According to Narae, “I move around the Kootenay area, find me on Facebook or Instagram, @kimchikitchenbc … People ask me to go to certain places,” he continues. “Last year we were in Kuskonook Harbor, Crawford Bay, Creston and Boswell along the lake. Some restaurant owners did not welcome us. Some were very friendly. Regardless, in all these places we had a lot of fun … It’s also very tiring to move around frequently. Now I stay in one place as long as possible. Before their grand opening this year, Wildnorth Brewery wanted us to be there for the celebrations. Starting July 1, we will be stationed there. ” .
Time management is always a challenge for freelancers and I asked Narae to share some tips they had learned along the way. “We have learned to simplify the process; to use similar ingredients, but to differentiate only a few key ingredients for menu items. Learn to prioritize what should be done first … You face hundreds of different situations every day. It can be that the generator fails or it has something to do with customer service … or you get injured from the hot oil. Hot weather is one of the biggest challenges as well as cooking under pressure when there are 10 people watching me make their fast food .too many to mention here … But I can definitely tell you that racism is not part of the challenge. As an Asian woman, I have never faced racism while running my business. Rather, people endorse me and say all kinds of words to me. in the world. They care about me when they don’t even have to. The great support I get in Creston and the Kootenay area is something I really want to shout about! -In thanks for the great support that and I have received. That’s why I put in the social media post re: the free advertising sticker on my food truck. “
Networking is an important part of running a business, so I asked Narae for her opinion on it. “When people come for my food I try to strike up a conversation to get to know them better, especially for the regulars. I ask their name and I remember it.” She answered. “Remembering small details of their needs (some like more pickles, others want more spicy, etc.). Meeting other business owners is also a great advantage. I have received many inquiries from curious customers. Some asked me if I wanted to sell my business, some asked questions about how to run a food truck. Many people are interested in opening their own food truck. I do my best to give them valuable advice with the understanding that we are all trying to survive, supporting our family and pay the bills. I will always continue to provide good food and support other local businesses. “
You can’t miss this bright yellow food truck, with an ever-changing menu that will never feel redundant or boring. Customers will also notice that the staff are not only friendly, but also get food out quickly. Although you won’t have long to wait for your meal, take the time to explore the many decals that will soon decorate the exterior of this bright yellow vehicle, celebrating other local entrepreneurs. For more information, visit his Facebook page @: https://www.facebook.com/kimchikitchenbc