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Evansville restaurant owner details his months long battle with COVID-19

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Published: Mar. 11, 2022 at 5:45 PM CST
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EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WFIE) - Gangnam Korean BBQ downtown Evansville was closed for several months at the end of last year, as their owner fought for his life in the hospital with COVID-19.

Joe Kim battled COVID for two months and spent three weeks at Deaconess Midtown. Doctors recommended he be put on a ventilator.

“They were like ‘you need to be hospitalized, you are not getting oxygen,’” Kim said.

Kim says keeping a restaurant afloat during a global pandemic created a lot of challenges.

In September of 2021, he faced a new challenge when he was forced to close his restaurant.

“I did not want to do any disservice to my customers, and I thought it was a health risk for me to be anywhere near any of the employees or family members,” Kim said.

In total, he spent three weeks away from his family, his restaurant and his employees.

“Your employees, they’ve got to survive too, and I feel really bad for them. If I can’t pay them for two months, that’s a big concern,” Kim said.

Despite fighting a life or death battle, Kim says his restaurant was all he could think about.

“We are coming back strong,” Kim said. “We’ve got new entrées and people are loving our food. I got to remake the entire menu during that time, it gave me time to rethink what I need to do, re-strategize and change the business plan.”

Gangnam Korean BBQ reopened the first week of November, but just like their owner, it’s been a slow recovery for the restaurant.

“We didn’t have much customers come back right after we opened, because they thought we were closed for good,” Kim said.

He wants everyone to know, Gangnam Korean BBQ is back open, with a new and improved menu, ready to serve customers again.

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