It’s crowded and bustling with customers on a weekday afternoon in the small Tokyo-style bar restaurant Izakaya Osen in Silver Lake, Los Angeles. Cho’s restaurant Izakaya Osen first opened in Silver Lake in 2017. Specializing in premium sushi, sashimi and innovative Japanese fusion dishes, Osen offers its patrons a refreshing take on traditional Japanese bar food. The interior space resembles a traditional izakaya, a Japanese-style bar, with an abundant array of cherry blossoms and Polaroid photos hanging from the ceiling.
But business wasn’t always booming and when Small Business Counselor Mr. ‘Andy’ Kim met Cho in 2016, he was unable to acquire a business loan to open up his own restaurant and he had very little resources left. Out of options and eager to start his own business, Chef Cho Min Sang attended the eight-week KYCC’s Small Business Entrepreneurial Training Program (ETP) for Korean entrepreneurs and business owners and met Mr. Kim, KYCC Small Business Counselor.
“When I met Mr. Cho, he had an impressive business plan and exceptional culinary experience through his training at Le Cordon Bleu. He had a vision for his new restaurant but lacked the resources to get his business off the ground. I connected him to a local bank where he was able to receive a business loan and assisted him through the Small Business Entrepreneurial Training Program. He didn’t lack the talent or the ambition, he simply lacked the resources. And that’s where KYCC stepped in to help a Korean immigrant entrepreneur start his dream business.”
Cho soon expanded his restaurant business to include a second location in Santa Monica. “I came to Los Angeles and opened Izakaya Osen in July of 2017 in Silver Lake. I was able to start my own restaurant through the help and guidance of Mr. Andy Kim at KYCC. Through his free business counseling sessions and most notably KYCC’s Small Business Entrepreneurial Training Program, I was able to open and manage a successful small business,” remarks Cho, owner and head chef of Izakaya Osen.
Mr. Kim runs the Small Business Program, which provides workshops and one-on-one counseling for Korean American and Koreatown businesses. As part of the Asian Pacific Islander Small Business Program (www.apisbp.org), KYCC is funded by the Small Business Administration to provide expert guidance and advice on how to start, manage and grow your own business. In person, Mr. Kim offers business advice from employee management to catering tips and educates entrepreneurs on labor and tax laws and city permits.
Twice a year, KYCC offers a Small Business workshop series, the Entrepreneur Training Program (ETP) where industry professionals, such as bankers, CPAs and attorneys, coach startup entrepreneurs and business owners on better operations and practices. Participants are able to meet and network with successful entrepreneurs who are able to provide first-hand knowledge about their experiences starting, managing and growing their businesses in the Los Angeles area. Class topics include: Access to Capital, E-Commerce/Internet Business, Social Media Marketing, Business Taxes and more. The entire workshop is held in Korean to specifically assist immigrant entrepreneurs and small business owners. This year alone, over 50 entrepreneurs have attended ETP workshops.
KYCC’s Community Economic Development was founded in 1992, in the wake of the Los Angeles Riots that devastated the Korean business community. Over 1,100 businesses—many of them Korean-owned—were destroyed by looting or arson. At the time, KYCC’s CED provided immediate logistical, legal and financial assistance, the foundation for our program to this day.
“My role is to help the Korean small business community, but I can’t just think about Koreans,” Mr. Kim says. “I have to think about the entire customer base of all of my clients. Koreatown businesses’ chance for survival will be greater if we move and change together.”
If you would like more information about the Small Business Entrepreneurial Training Program or interested in scheduling a business counseling session, please contact Andy Kim at (213) 365-7400 Ext. 5103. or email firstname.lastname@example.org.