Sunday marked the first time ever Parachute was open for business since the popular Korean-American restaurant opened six years ago. It took a public health crisis for James Beard-winning chefs Beverly Kim and Johnny Clark to make the decision. With their Avondale dining room closed due to COVID-19 restrictions, the couple’s Michelin-starred restaurant was bustling with pickups and deliveries. It was a similar scene at their new restaurant down the street, Wherewithall.
“This shows you how desperate we are,” Kim said. “We said we’d never, ever open on a Sunday.”
That desperation is shared by many chefs and restaurant workers, trying to find new sweet spots while focusing on carryout and delivery. Kim’s restaurants have only offered dine-in meals: “We had to change our entire business model to adopt to this world, and we’re OK with that because these time call for it.”
Clark and Kim live with their three children near their restaurants to make childcare easier. But with schools closed, they’re facing another challenge. Their youngest will soon celebrate his first birthday. Meanwhile, the oldest is learning to cook at home at the robust age of 10. Kim said it’s been difficult being away from her youngest child. She finds herself at Parachute full-time, running the restaurant and supporting her employees during these uncertain times: “I see this as a temporary sacrifice of my time for my business,” Kim said.
Right now, Kim relates to a cherished family story, how her grandmother survived during the Korean War. At one point, she needed to cross a river with her two daughters and one son. To cross upriver, parents would place one child on their shoulders. For Kim’s grandmother, this wasn’t possible with three children. Despite suggestions to take the boy and leave the girls behind, Kim’s grandmother did not abandon any of her children in North Korea. She found a way to survive without sacrificing her children. Kim is now carrying that spirit, determined not to let her restaurants to fail.
It’s a challenge to stay positive, but she’s trying.
“I’m so proud of our team,” Kim said. “If anything, if all the shit hits the fan, personally I want to say how proud they should be with adapting to all of this.”