Caffé Concerto (caffeconcertousa.com) is one of the hottest family-owned restaurants in Los Angeles right now! Owned by Erin Jeon and Lion Kim, the restaurant has been visited by countless celebrities including PSY and Oliver Stone.
With an eclectic range of tastes, visions, and personalities, the exciting multi-floored Caffé Concerto has foodies drooling over their menu selections, and craving their incredible dessert items.
The Levity Ball sat down with one of the masterminds behind the new top trending destination, Erin Jeon, to find out more and what makes people happy all year round, and not just during their famous ‘Happy Hour’…
You started off with a small food stand operating inside of Hannam Chain Supermarket… What drove you to want to create an entire restaurant?
My ex-husband and I started 열차우동 (Yulcha Udong) primarily out of a necessity to support our family. We both immigrated to Los Angeles in the late 80s, and wanted to set up a business that would allow us to comfortably raise our children and educate them. Being new to this country at the time, we didn’t have many options for work available to us. Instead we had to make our own opportunities. My motivation for business has always been my family. Success follows as a happy side effect, but my children and my family have always come first. The rest is momentum.
The restaurant is a family business now… Is it difficult working with your family members at times?
Even before my son, daughter, husband, and now daughter-in-law began working at the restaurant, I’ve always maintained very close and enduring relationships with my employees. For this reason, I’ve always considered my work as a family business. I love this aspect of my work, but in recent times I’ve come to understand that each relationship is unique and that trust must be gradually fostered over time. Just because we are family does not mean everything goes. Boundaries are important to establish, and respect and professionalism must be maintained to project a positive energy to our staff and customers.
Who was your role model growing up and why?
I come from a family of 7, so I’ve always been very close to them. Because we spent so much time together, I’ve come to value each of their unique characteristics and strengths. There is no greater role model than my mother. She was a very strong, charismatic, and honorable woman. She could make a connection with anyone and she always made people feel at ease. I hope that some of that has rubbed off on me.
What is the best advice you have ever been given?
In my family, it always important to be honest. My approach to business, to maintaining personal relationships, motherhood, marriage, etc. has always been to stay true to my core and to be honest, even if it isn’t always pleasant. The truth always has a way of rising to the surface.
What is your advice to others looking at getting into the restaurant and food industry?
I would advise people getting into the restaurant and food industry to make sure that the operations are simple and organized. If the system does not function properly, it doesn’t matter how glamorous the decor is or how delicious the food is. The work has to flow in order business and loyalty to follow.
You have had massive celebs like PSY and Oliver Stone dine at your restaurant… What was it like seeing them walk in the door?
My husband was very excited to see Oliver Stone because he is a big fan of his movies. He even designed one of the dining areas to be “Scarface” themed — with faux mini coffered ceilings and a luxurious fake alligator skin table. Haha!
You also have famed executive Chef, Eric Kim, working for you… What is your favorite personal dish of his?
I really enjoy the Chilean Sea Bass because it is light, nutritious, and full of flavor. The sauce is a delicate balance of mustard and ponzu, two flavors I really love.
What does the future hold for Caffe Concerto? More locations?
We are set to open our Westfield Santa Anita location in August. We hope everyone can come join us for this big event. The new space will be bigger than our current location, and will have all the components that make our restaurant so diverse now — a full liquor and coffee bar, dining menu, and an on-site bakery.
And final question: What do you hope people remember your restaurant by after they dine-in?
We hope people leave with the sense that they were cared for, that we tried our best to make their dining experience pleasant and easy, and that they leave loving the food!
Marc S. Boriosi has many passions including writing, editing, producing, and modern culture. His company, The Levity Ball, is an innovative website that highlights the latest trends and most talented artists in fashion, music, and the arts.
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