For the past year, the tables inside Kang Lee’s sushi restaurant in Dallas, Texas, have been mostly vacant.
His business revenue dropped by 50 percent from the previous year due to the novel coronavirus pandemic. Kang, who has owned multiple restaurants since immigrating from South Korea in the 1960s, had to let most of his employees go as he struggled to keep the doors open.
Kang’s current restaurant, a sushi place called Sushiya, has been a staple for hungry businesspeople working downtown for the past 14 years. These days, the 80-year-old is hoping to retire to care for his sick wife, but the pandemic threw a wrench in his plans.
Fortunately, the grandpa finally caught a break thanks to a social media app he doesn’t quite understand.
His teenage grandson, Andrew Kim, recently came down to visit from Minnesota. When Andrew saw the empty state of Sushiya, he did what any good member of Gen Z would do: He made a TikTok video to promote the restaurant.
“Come visit my grandpa’s sushi restaurant,” the high school senior wrote. The video features the restaurant’s staff members along with cheerful music and delicious-looking menu items.
“It was really sad because you look up to your grandparents, and to see them struggle is really disheartening,” Andrew explained.
He wasn’t sure his TikTok video would help drive business to the restaurant, but he knew it couldn’t hurt. No one could have prepared Andrew and his family for the onslaught of new business the video was about to bring in!
The video has been viewed more than 6 million times and counting. People from all over the world have vowed to visit the restaurant, and to Andrew’s amazement, many of them actually showed up!
Kang said he was confused — he didn’t even know what TikTok was, after all — but he couldn’t welcome his guests fast enough. “I couldn’t believe it,” he said. “People were lined up at the door!”
Business turned on a dime, and Kang was able to rehire many of the staff members to care for their customers… who look a little different than their regulars. Mama Kim, who has worked with Kang for the past 30 years, said, “It’s groups of people coming in and a lot of young people, but everyone is so kind and so nice.”
The grandpa is now a bit of a local celebrity! Many new patrons have asked to take a picture with him, and he’s loving every minute of it! Most importantly, he’s grateful to his grandson for using such a modern approach to marketing. All hail the power of the internet!
Share this story to wish Kang well as his business gets back up to speed.
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