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«12-2013 Business Plan for a Korean Fine-dining restaurant in Las Vegas Jihoon Kim University of Nevada, Las Vegas Follow this and additional works ...»

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UNLV Theses/Dissertations/Professional Papers/Capstones


Business Plan for a Korean Fine-dining restaurant in

Las Vegas

Jihoon Kim

University of Nevada, Las Vegas

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Repository Citation

Kim, Jihoon, "Business Plan for a Korean Fine-dining restaurant in Las Vegas" (2013). UNLV Theses/Dissertations/Professional Papers/

Capstones. Paper 2044.

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Business Plan for a Korean Fine-dining restaurant in Las Vegas by Jihoon Kim Bachelor of Science Beppu University September, 1998 A professional paper submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirement for the Master of Science Hotel Administration William F. Harrah College of Hotel Administration Graduate College University of Nevada, Las Vegas December, 2013 Chair: Dr. Yen-Soon Kim 1


Introduction The Korean food industry is enjoying international attention and growth as the Korean government’s globalization efforts spur the development of Korean restaurants in international markets such as the United States (Korean Food Foundation, 2013). Korean cuisine is being branded as healthy food that harmonizes nutrition and flavor (Jang & Ha, 2009). Now is the time to start new Korean restaurants in the U.S.’s ethnic cuisine market. This paper provides a business plan focusing on a fine-dining Korean restaurant operation in the Las Vegas market, which is currently devoid of such an operation.

Purpose The purpose of this paper is to create a viable business plan for a Korean fine-dining restaurant in Las Vegas, where none currently exist.

Statement of Objective The business plan provided in this paper will be a guide for a fine-dining Korean restaurant in Las Vegas. This plan’s objectives will outline how to

• Offer premium, quality products to restaurant patrons

• Secure funding for a commercial dining facility in a centralized location the Las Vegas “Strip”

• Secure funding to cover expenses associated with the business’s operations

• Generate annual revenues exceeding one million dollars

• Expand the restaurant’s operations from a single location to multiple locations in affluent areas within large cities throughout the United States and beyond

• Become an efficient, successful, and profitable business

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Ethnic cuisine has become popular among people in the U.S. Americans are also increasingly interested in healthy foods. Korean cuisine becomes increasingly popular with Americans and is also being recognized as a healthy food choice. The South Korean government is supporting large Korean food companies that are planning to expand food service businesses beyond South Korea. This is part of the government’s recent effort to globalize Korean food. The government also recognizes that gentrification of the restaurant business is a crucial part of the globalization of Korean cuisine. Therefore, it is time for a restaurateur to start a new Korean fine-dining restaurant business in the ethnic cuisine market in the U.S., with a goal of changing the current public perception of Korean restaurants.

Las Vegas is a good location to begin this business due to its lack of fine-dining Koreanthemed restaurants, an influx of individuals from its target demographic, and the recent surge in international tourism from Asian countries. Las Vegas already boasts many Asian-themed restaurants, including a few dozen Korean restaurants. But none of the current Korean restaurants can be considered fine dining, making the proposed establishment the first of its kind in Las Vegas. The business will have access to its target demographic of affluent Americans and foreign tourists familiar with Asian and Korean-themed fine-dining cuisine, as well as Korean Americans and Korean nationals visiting the city. The business will draw customers with an appetite for luxury dining who are willing to pay for high-quality service and taste.

This paper’s author worked in five-star hotels in South Korea as a restaurant associate and as a front desk manager for more than ten years. He is currently studying a master course in hotel administration. This experience qualifies him to author this business plan.

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The limitation of this business plan concerns the financial data estimated to determine realistic expenses. Although the author can get information, such as start-up costs and fixed costs, by interviewing managers who currently run successful upscale Korean restaurants in Los Angeles and New York, the figures provided by them are likely to be based on rough estimates because they are reluctant to reveal exact business information.

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Introduction Restaurants come and go, but a good understanding of the business as a whole and proper planning can lead to success. For a start-up restaurant, a business plan acts as a roadmap, helping restaurateurs examine all aspects of the business and prepare for success. The following literature review will discuss several aspects related to a business plan for starting a fine-dining Korean restaurant in Las Vegas. It will also touch on the importance of a business plan.

–  –  –

It appears that interest in Asian cuisines are increasing in the U.S., with Chinese food remaining one of the major ethnic food choices along with Italian and Mexican cuisines. Thai and Japanese cuisines also attract customers. Korean cuisine is emerging, signifying tremendous potential for growth, and is being perceived differently for its uniqueness and flavor (Jang, Ha, & Silkes, 2009). Interest in healthy food is also increasing in the U.S. Obesity has become a growing concern among Americans. Parents are required to keep an eye on the eating habits of their children and make sure they are aware of the health risks associated with high calorie fast foods (Court, Vince-Cain, & Jefferson, 2010). Annual surveys conducted by the National Restaurant Association shows American consumers have become more health conscious. Trends in restaurant menus in 2013, revealed by the survey, showed health-related issues ranked one to five. These issues were: locally sourced meats and seafood, locally grown produce, healthful kids’ meals, environmental sustainability, and children’s nutrition. The ranking from last year’s survey also shows similar results, including: locally sourced meats and seafood, locally grown produce, healthful kids’ meals, hyper-local sourcing (e.g. restaurant gardens), sustainability, and

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Korean Cuisine as Healthy and Nutritious Dining Korean cuisine is regarded as being natural with recipes that use a variety of ingredients produced in Korea (Park, Woo, & Choi, 2011). Additionally, the ratio of animal to vegetable ingredients that are used in Korean cuisine is approximately 8:2, which leads to diversity and balance in menu composition (Nah, 2007). Surveying foreign travelers in South Korea about the possibility of globalization of Korean cuisine found that a vegetable-based healthy diet is the most important factor that will enable Korean cuisine to go global (Hong, Park, & Shin, 2009).

For example, Bibimbop, which is good for vegetarian diets, is a good solution for those who pursue organic foods. It can be harmonized with tofu, which is made of beans, great sources of protein. In addition, one of the hallmarks of Korean cuisine is the use of fermented ingredients.

Fermentation has been lauded as providing great health benefits. One such item that is ubiquitous in Korean cuisine is Kimchi, which has been described as the world’s healthiest food by Health Magazine (Raymond, 2006).

The Status and Preference of Korean Restaurants in the U.S.

While Korean cuisine is commonly considered hot and spicy, it has never the less become increasingly popular with American customers. There is a tendency for Americans to perceive Korean cuisine as nutritionally balanced and healthy (Jang & Ha, 2009), and such attributes could appeal to American customers who pursue healthy food and new tastes. However, a Korean Food Foundation survey found that awareness of and preference for Korean cuisine is still lower than other ethnic cuisines, such as Chinese, Italian, Mexican, and Japanese, despite its nutritional superiority and reputation as a healthy food choice. The 2009 survey, which was

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and Japanese restaurants were most prevalent, with over one thousand establishments currently open, as opposed to only 312 Korean restaurants. In another Korean Food Foundation survey on ethnic cuisine preferences in the U.S., Korean cuisine ranked 8th, scoring only 17 out of 100 points. Survey respondents cited lack of cleanliness and lack of menu options at Korean barbecues as the main reasons they did not prefer Korean restaurants. Korean restaurant operators need to pay attention to these figures and statements to improve their businesses.

In their early days, most Korean restaurants were run by Korean immigrants, which were small family-run businesses. Those first-generation Koreans in the U.S. were barely able to keep up with the changing trends in the food service industry. The interior designs of such small businesses were humble and without investment in facilities. Each business served almost the same menu (Korean Food Foundation, 2010). Even now, many Korean restaurants lack cleanliness and attractiveness. Korean restaurants have the reputation of simply being barbecue restaurants where the smell of roasting meat and smoke overwhelms the entire restaurant. In contrast to the atmosphere of Japanese restaurants, which have successfully taken root as luxury dining in the U.S, the atmosphere of the typical Korean restaurant is unsophisticated. Jang et al.

(2009) pointed out that Korean restaurant marketers need to make greater efforts to improve visual appeal and cleanliness.

Japanese Restaurants’ Practice as Model Cases for an Upscale Korean Restaurant Japanese restaurants’ successful marketing strategy, which mixes the country’s culture with their food service industry, shows how people equate Japanese dining with a luxury experience. Japanese cuisine has many strong points, such as quality and healthfulness. In terms of cost, Americans seem to see Japanese cuisine as expensive (Jang et al., 2009). Japanese dining,

–  –  –

Japanese national brand. This is a result of restaurant owners’ efforts to portray a sophisticated image, putting cleanliness first, and the use of traditional decorations on the food and staff uniforms. They added design elements to the foods in order to visually attract customers and created a new concept called “fusion,” which adapted Japanese cuisine to tastes and style of the Westerners. Japanese restaurants thus successfully imprinted their own unique image on America.

Beneath such success lies the active support and participation of the Japanese government and the Japanese people who love their own culture (Hong et al., 2009).

Nobu Restaurants, an Example of Successful Japanese-themed Fine Dining Nobu Restaurants’ success story is a testament to Japanese fine dining. Nobu consistently scores high in popularity polls and has won awards from famous restaurant guides since its first restaurant opened in New York in 1994. Twenty-six high-end Nobu Restaurants are open throughout the world, including two in Las Vegas. The décor in Nobu’s interior design pays homage to time-honored Japanese culture and a refined Japanese palate. But the restaurants’ atmospheres are contemporary and vibrant as well. The restaurant’s marketers boast that dining at a Nobu Restaurant is more than a meal. The acclaimed chef-owner, Nobuyuki Matsuhisa, has contributed to the modern wave of Japanese fusion cuisine in America through an Americanized flavor of his home cuisine (Nobu Restaurants, 2013). With the rise in Japan’s economic power after World War ІІ, Nobu Restaurants’ success stands as an example of Japanese cuisine’s increasing worldwide popularity—along with other aspects of Japanese popular culture such as electronics, fashion, and cartoons (Cwiertka, 2001). Japanese cuisine’s healthy image also boosted its popularity. This especially facilitated the spread of sushi among Americans concerned with a healthy diet (Koyama & Ishige, 1985).

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culture, must be examined alongside the globalization of Korean food. South Korea has recently become a global economic power due to global corporations such as Samsung and Hyundai.

Hanliu, the Korean Wave, has spread throughout the world, bringing South Korean culture to all parts of the globe. A rise in the popularity of Korean cuisine in the U.S. is a strong probability, especially considering the two countries’ similarities in economic power and popular culture. In light of the success of Nobu Restaurants, one can infer similar success for fine-dining Koreanthemed restaurants.

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The literature provides the following definition of a fine-dining Korean restaurant: “A fine-dining Korean restaurant is the place that provides traditional Hanjeongsik within Koreanstyle architecture that includes luxury facilities and utensils and provides a comfortable atmosphere and high-class service” (Park et al., 2011, p. 351).

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The Las Vegas Strip is one of the most famous and heavily trafficked areas in the world, which would give a Korean restaurant located there a good chance to attract customers. The Strip’s estimated daily traffic count is over 586,000 cars, with its peak during the morning and afternoon rush hours. Estimated hourly foot traffic on the Strip averages nearly 18,000 people, peaking at 41,000 people during the evening (Applied Analysis, 2013).

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