During lunchtime the orders pile the counter at Memphis Seoul in Crown Heights.
Bart Hubbuch opened the store in 2019, not knowing what would lie ahead. He went from sports writer to restaurateur.
"It's like my baby. I love it. It's been a great mid-life career change,” Hubbuch said.
It was just the beginning of two years of changes sparked by the pandemic.
"The pandemic — it was a lot of work. I ended up working about 130 straight days,” Hubbuch said. "We made the best of a really bad situation."
He shifted his focus to takeout during the shutdown and sought out help from grants. A recent report from the state comptroller's office found the borough received one fifth or more of federal relief loans and one out of every 10 relief grants, some from the private sector.
"If you are a restaurant that got a federal grant through the restaurant revitalization fund you are in a much stronger place than one of the 65% of restaurants that got shut out,” Executive Director of NYC Hospitality Alliance Andrew Rigie said.
Hubbuch received private sector support through the Spectrum Reach Pay It Forward program, which mentors business and provides participants with free advertising opportunities. Spectrum Reach and NY1 are both owned by Charter Communications.
Daymond, John one of the sharks from the show "Shark Tank,” is one of the mentors in the program. Before the fame, the New Yorker founded the clothing brand Fubu, selling hats on Jamaica Ave.
"Coming full circle in your own community, it's an amazing feeling,” John said.
He hopes the people he mentored walk away feeling inspired.
"I hope someone ends up changing the world. Why can't they?” John said.
Memphis Seoul is definitely moving in the right direction, as adaptability may become the new normal for restaurants still facing challenges from supply chain issues and threats of new waves of COVID.
"We've done over a million dollars in sales, I have 10 employees, so there are a lot of things to be proud about,” Hubbuch said.