|▲ Sinchon Stone Blow Seolleongtang / CEO Jajoon Choi|
Entering the restaurant in Yeonje District, Busan, you will see a row of citations hung on the wall including one from the president. Jajoon Choi, CEO of the restaurant, remembers that he suffered from hunger almost all the time as a boy. So he brewed his dream of being an owner of restaurant when he grew up and he took action at the age 19.
He traveled around the country to find and learn local cuisines and built his skills while serving as a chef at famous restaurants and hotels. By the time he thought he was ready to start his own business, he was convinced ‘seolleongtang – ox bone soup’ as most confident and promising. Thus born was Sinchon Stone Bowl Seolleongtang.
During this preparatory period, he made a promise to his father that he would visit him with a handful of quality beef to share his pride over a meal. Sadly, his seemingly healthy father suddenly became ill and passed away soon, leaving the promise unfulfilled. Deeply saddened, he struggled to find a channel to let out his grief and disappointment. But he soon found it and that was providing free meals for people in his father’s age.
Since opening the restaurant in 2004, Choi has not increased price for the last 15 years in memory of his father and his fellow men. Moreover, he has given 10% additional discount for elderly and disabled and donated 2 million won ($1,562) worth free meal voucher to welfare centers every year. The words about his good deeds spread fast and the row of citations on the wall of the restaurant are the results we see today.
“One day, I got a phone call from the district office to come to receive a presidential citation. I thought it was a voice phishing at first but soon found out that there were 17 other receivers of the citation who mostly were elites of the society except only me as an owner of a restaurant. I was surprised and…dumbfounded. But in a good way” remembers back Choi.
Having served free meal for elderly for nearly 17 years, Choi now gets worried whether something might have happened to the regulars who have not turned up for several days. And he said that the way his ran the business would not be changed for as long as it goes.
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