Adaptability could be the new normal for New York restaurants

At lunchtime, orders pour in at the Memphis Seoul counter in Crown Heights.

Bart Hubbuch opened the store in 2019, not knowing what to expect. He went from sports writer to restaurateur.

“It’s like my baby. I love it. It’s been a big mid-life career change,” Hubbuch said.

It was just the start of two years of change triggered by the pandemic.


What do you want to know

  • Bart Hubbuch opened Memphis Seoul in 2019 with no restaurant experience
  • Hubbuch’s business has done well during the pandemic serving takeout. It has received private sector support through the Spectrum Pay it Forward program
  • Shark Tank star Daymond John mentored some of the companies
  • A recent report from the state comptroller’s office found that Brooklyn received one-fifth or more of federal relief loans and one in 10 relief grants, some from the private sector.

“The pandemic – it was a lot of work. I ended up working about 130 straight days,” Hubbuch said. “We made the best of a very bad situation.”

He focused on takeout during the shutdown and applied for grant assistance. A recent report from the state comptroller’s office found the borough received one-fifth or more of federal relief loans and one in 10 relief grants, some from the private sector.

“If you’re a restaurant that got a federal grant through the Restaurant Revitalization Fund, you’re in a much stronger position than any of the 65% of restaurants that have been closed,” the NYC executive director said. Hospitality Alliance, Andrew Rigie.

Hubbuch has received private sector support through the Spectrum Pay it Forward program. Spectrum, the parent company of NY1, oversees businesses and provides free advertising opportunities.

Daymond, John, one of the sharks on the show “Shark Tank”, is one of the program’s mentors. Before fame, the New Yorker founded the clothing brand Fubu, selling hats on Jamaica Ave.

“To go full circle in your own community is an amazing feeling,” John said.

He hopes those he mentors will leave inspired.

“I hope someone will end up changing the world. Why can’t they? Jean said.

Memphis Seoul is definitely moving in the right direction as adaptability could become the new normal for restaurants that are still facing supply chain issues and threats from new waves of COVID.

“We’ve done over $1 million in sales, I have 10 employees, so there’s a lot to be proud of,” Hubbuch said.

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