On Jan. 5, 2018, SBS Baek’s Alley Restaurant launched its first show and soon became a huge hit. The program’s main focus is to prevent restaurant businesses from shutting down with the help of the so-called “god of business”, Chef Baek Jong-won. In order to revive the alley, the restaurant owners have their restaurant system and menu evaluated, take advice from Baek, and directly apply them to their restaurant.
Baek first stepped into the alley restaurants in front of Ewha. The restaurants of Ewha had lost their commercial supremacy compared to the times when they flourished twenty years ago. Also, their sales have dropped significantly, so that when Chef Baek first entered these restaurants, they were empty and lonesome. Restaurants, such as Gayagaya, Burger & Cheese, Sobayarin, and so on had been broadcasted on national television. Some of the major changes that the restaurants went through were the choice of their menu, the exterior design, and the attitude toward guests. However, despite its initial intention of positively transforming the restaurants, the reactions after the changes were rather conflicting. One of the problems that the students of Ewha faced was the inconvenience caused by the sudden increase in customers. Students who need to finish their meal as quickly as possible had a hard time even receiving the food due to the long queue of visitors that came to visit the renovated alley restaurants. Also, they had to wait in line for a considerable amount of time than ever before as the restaurants did not have enough seats to tolerate all the customers. “Considering the many customers they receive, there are not enough seats at most of the restaurants,” said Kim Seong-Hye, freshman of the Department of Philosophy.
Furthermore, students expressed concern about the discrepancy between the reputation of the restaurants after the show and the quality of their food. “I didn’t find the menu satisfactory enough. I think that it lacked the specialness that makes them distinct with other restaurants,” said Han Ga-ram, a student of the Department of English Language and Literature, who recently had a meal at ‘Baekban House.’
However, surprisingly, the reaction of the restaurant owners was different. Han Dong-hun, the owner of Burger and Cheese, claims that the program brought about positive outcomes. “I learned a lot and this program was generally a nice memory for our restaurant. Not only did it become clear which item I should indulge in, but I also made contact with the people that I once was disconnected with. But, most of all, the number of customers have increased significantly after the show.” The program not only gave them the best solution to revive their restaurant, but by the increased customers, it gave the restaurant owners new chances to expand their interior and develop new menus.
“We are planning to expand our restaurant to accommodate more people. We are also planning to develop a new menu as we currently have only one menu,” said Mr. Han. Furthermore, other than the restaurants that appeared on TV, the commercial supremacy of the restaurants in front of Ewha increased considerably, overall. Even though the intention of the program is controversial, it is clear that the directivity of this program should be evaluated and alley restaurants in overall should change. The program should carefully choose the content and should maintain a neutral stance about the restaurants. There are many alley restaurants that Chef Baek cannot visit, but still need help. So, the officials of this program should keep in mind that other than making their program provocative, they should correctly point out the problems, provide a realistic solution, and prove that these renovations are effective. Also, owners of alley restaurants should be aware of the fact that alley restaurants are changing at a fast rate. Just like restaurants or franchises, they need to develop new menus and try to focus on the wants of the customers. Though there is no perfect answer, these intriguing changes are expected to bring about a more favorable condition to the alley restaurant owners and the consumers.