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Teen’s Viral TikTok Saves Grandfather’s Sushi Restaurant

sushi restaurant tiktok
@andrewrafaelkim/TikTok

A high school senior from Minnesota visited his grandparents this past March, and saw how bad business was at their downtown Dallas sushi restaurant. He thought he’d record a TikTok video to help … and it’s resulted in a viral video for him and booming business for his grandparents.

The video was posted on March 19 and received nearly six million views since Andrew Kim posted it to his @andrewrafaelkim account.

@andrewrafaelkim

business has been slow with corona, so it would mean a lot if u came 🙂 #smallbusiness #sushi #texas #food

♬ Cloud 9 - Beach Bunny

“It was really sad because you look up to your grandparents, and to see them struggle is really disheartening,” Kim told the Dallas Morning News, explaining his rationale for making the video.

Kang Lee, Andrew’s grandfather, has been in the restaurant business for 50 years after immigrating to the U.S. from South Korea in the 1960s. He has been aiming to retire next year, but the struggles that his Sushiya restaurant has had during the pandemic has placed those plans in doubt.

But business has picked up thanks to the video. As the Dallas Morning News story noted, “The day after Kim posted the video, Sushiya was packed. Lee and his reduced staff couldn’t keep up. They had so many customers that at one point they had to stop taking to-go orders and turn some people away at the door. Lee worried about how customers would handle the unusually slow service and long wait times as they tried to accommodate the rush of new business, but everyone was understanding and patient.”

“It’s been a different crowd than we’re used to,” said staff member Junok Kim, known to regulars as Mama Kim. “It’s groups of people coming in and a lot of young people, but everyone is so kind and so nice.”

As Lee marveled at the time, “I couldn’t believe it. People were lined up at the door!”

The video hasn’t just helped Lee and his family. Lee had to let several staff members go when business became too slow to justify keeping them on. Lee was able to hire them back once business picked up. Even though Lee didn’t know what TikTok was prior to his grandson posting the video, he’s definitely grateful for what the platform allowed him to do.

Lee said that ever since his grandson shared the video on TikTok, Sushiya went from a year straight pulling in just 50% of its usual revenue, going back up to 95%.

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Written by Phil West