5 years ago1,000+ Views
This is part 1 of a piece I wrote last year called "Dasonii: The people who love" documenting a restaurant I spent a lot of time at in Pittsburgh. Please comment with any questions, or any critiques! Thanks for reading. The read the full piece as I release it, follow this collection! http://www.vingle.net/collections/1132145-Dasonii-The-People-Who-Love ================================== “You don’t have any Korean beers?” A customer asks while browsing the short bar menu at Dasonii Korean Bistro in Robinson, Pennsylvania on a warm summer evening. “Sorry, we don’t. But we do have Soju, which is like a kind of Korean rice wine and also some Japanese beers available,” the waitress Jennifer, an American college student, smiles and explains—she’s been asked this before. Anyways, Koreans prefer non-Korean beers, like Sapporo or Yeungling. “But no Korean beers?” He opts for the Sapporo instead, and she collects the menus, heading to the back of the house. Jeoung Chae, manager and owner of Dasonii, runs her hand through her ponytail as she approaches Jennifer. Jeoung is frantic: table 17 ordered Pork Kimchi—it’ll be too spicy for them. They are not Korean; it will surely be too spicy. “Please, make sure okay. Make sure they okay with spicy, yes?” She begs Jennifer to convey what she cannot, fearing her English explanation had not been enough for the man to understand exactly what he had ordered. Jeoung is always frantic to ensure everything. She moves away in fast, short steps to Table 11 and transitions comfortably as she greets a family friend and a member of the same church, and updates them about her kids and her husband, Bryan, who is busy dicing jalapeños and mixing hot pepper flakes for the perfect, spicy stew. She remains perched between the politeness of a friend and the formality of a host as she brings them complimentary side dishes and appetizers. “It’s okay; don’t tell Bryan,” she tells Jennifer after ordering her to put out extra food at no charge. The sound of the street comes pouring through an opening door; Jeoung looks up and sees a man in khakis and a button down shirt pass through the dark, tinted windows and into the dimly lit restaurant. “Hi! Long time no see!” She shouts as she hurries to the door. Grabbing a menu from the unoccupied bar, she moves to Table 21, seating the businessman as she asks, “chicken bulgogi, right? Oh so happy to see you today! Yes, good good. But too slow. Is there football game tonight?” Jeoung asks the questions, but rarely waits to hear the answers as she briskly moves on. Bryan Chae, unlike his wife, remains away from the customers, reluctant to even poke his head out of the kitchen to wave a friendly hello to a family friend or fellow church member as Jeoung yells for him to greet the guests. But at lunchtime, three or four times a week, Bryan slides into a chair at the sushi bar with his buddy, Jamie, and unloads the week’s events. Sometimes for minutes, sometimes for hours: the two talk about food, health, life, jobs. Jeoung doesn’t like it, doesn’t like it when Bryan talks to customers too much. Not good for business. ### The Chaes’ Dasonii Korean Bistro is located in a strip mall in Robinson Township, an area saturated with businesses. Thai, Mexican, Italian, Western and Chinese restaurants are abundant; hot dogs, sandwiches, sushi or steak can all be found within a two mile radius. This sprawling shopping suburb of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania experienced booming growth over the past twenty years due to its proximity to the Pittsburgh International Airport. The roads widened; chain restaurants opened; rent got high. Bryan, too, saw the appeal of Robinson for their business: traffic seemed endless, if congested, and numerous hotels meant businessmen, visiting tourists and just-passing-by travelers could be frequent customers if, too, opened in the airport corridor. He knew the size of the airport business; when opening Dasonii, he still owned and managed a luggage transport service that worked with airlines to deliver late and lost luggage to customers’ homes. Bryan closed the business, which at its peak serviced Cleveland, Pittsburgh and Baltimore, just a few months after opening Dasonii in early 2010. If he could make another small claim in that business sector, Bryan thought, he could achieve his dream through Dasonii. But with high rent cost and slow business in a hard to find Robinson strip mall, Bryan and Jeoung sell the space readily when given the opportunity to end their lease early. Since they didn’t intend to stay past April, anyways, October doesn’t seem too soon. Jeoung is relieved—they have already moved to a smaller house, sold a car and exhaustingly argued with one another due to the financial problems of owning a restaurant. Still, Jeoung is sad. Where could they go, now? The close happens quickly, just three weeks after receiving the proposal; Jeoung tells her long-time customers to come and see her again once they open in their new location. “Maybe Oakland, Squirrel Hill, Lawrenceville. More people. More vibrant,” she explains when they ask where the restaurant will make new roots. “Shadyside, or Squirrel Hill, or Dormont,” she tells another enquiring friend. “Somewhere new.” ================================= Part 2: (not yet uploaded).
@galinda thank you! I'm glad the chaos came across--its hard to create that feeling with words.
I really like this! I could feel the chaos of the restaurant :)
@hikaymm checking for it now!
@greggr very soon!!! :) keep an eye out for it~~
This is great so far--when will you post the next section?
View more comments