When Eunjung Kim (MBA ’16) left the food Mecca of New York City and came to Washington, D.C., to attend the McDonough School of Business, she felt unsatisfied with the limited food options available in the District.
“Maybe I’ve been too spoiled living in New York for 7½ years, but that was the major reason I was disappointed with D.C.’s food scene,” Kim said. “Not to dismiss how great a city D.C. is, but I did not think it had enough variety of foods to give you a choice.”
To contend with her frustrations and give Georgetown a taste of the flavors from her home of South Korea, Kim opened the Korean restaurant Zannchi in late March. Located at 1529 Wisconsin Ave. NW, the eatery serves a traditional and authentic array of Korean food with some modern twists.
Highlights from Zannchi’s menu include Korean staples like bulgogi, japchae and Korean dumplings. In addition, Zannchi offers kimbap, a larger Korean version of sushi.
The decision to combine old and new arose from Kim’s own research and decision to cater her menu to residents and diners in Georgetown.
“I chose selectively which dishes I wanted to bring in,” Kim said. “There are a lot of authentic dishes that are not included in the menu, but I wanted to give people from Georgetown an authentic menu that they would like.”
In addition to starting her venture, Kim is enrolled in the MSB’s Master of Business Administration program, from which she will be graduating in May.
Kim said while starting the business was much harder than she anticipated, she was able to adapt and overcome her challenges.
“It’s definitely harder than I anticipated. I keep learning about myself and I think I am evolving with the business,” Kim said.
Kim said she also realized hard work was not the only component of starting and managing a successful business, and had to overcome several legal obstacles as well.
“The thing that you don’t learn in school is that the biggest hurdle in starting a business is all of the legal stuff you have to go through,” Kim said. “Dealing with bureaucrats is probably the hardest part of running a business.”
At Georgetown, Kim’s membership in both Startup Hoyas and the entrepreneurship club were integral to helping her start and run Zannchi. In addition, Kim said individuals like Jeff Reid, founding director of the Georgetown Entrepreneurship Initiative, helped guide her, connecting her with Georgetown’s entrepreneurs-in-residence.
“They were all able to help me with my questions and provided me with a lot of great connections,” Kim said.
Zannchi’s recipes are authentically Korean, modeled after the recipes her family in Korea used in their restaurants. Given her ambition, her family acknowledged her dream of bringing Korean food to Georgetown and supports her entrepreneurship.
“My family has a background in restaurant ownership in Korea,” Kim said. “I was very ambitious about that and my family supported my vision.”
A waiter at the restaurant, Stephan Kim (MSB ’16), said international students and locals alike have appreciated the culmination of Kim’s efforts and her mentors’ support in creating Zannchi’s authentic Korean flavors.
“The neighbors love it since it’s the only Korean restaurant in Georgetown,” Stephan Kim said. “Also, for the Korean students, it’s huge. I see a lot of returning customers who appreciate the food’s authentic feel and the restaurant’s modern atmosphere.”
Stephan Kim, who has never before worked in a restaurant said there is a high level of mutual respect between the management and employees at Zannchi, so that he was able to suggest changes in the menu and daily operations of the restaurant.
“My boss really taught me well and we have a strong sense of mutual respect,” Stephan Kim said. “I’ve had the chance to make differences in the menu and daily operations, and it’s really collaborative.”
As for the future of Zannchi, Kim has ambitions to expand the concept throughout cities in the U.S. and possibly one day bring Zannchi to Asia. For now, she wants to make a name for herself in Georgetown.
Nicholas Bowe (COL ’17), who recently visited Zannchi for the first time with friends said he liked the restaurant and the menu options.
“Zannchi had a simple menu with great food, and I had a delicious bibimbap, but the best part of the restaurant is its location. It’s a nice walk, and it’s pretty accessible,” Bowe said.
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