This entry was written by Ari Weinzweig, co-founder of the Zingerman's Community of Businesses. Recently, Inc. Magazine named Weinzweig one of The World's 10 Top CEOs (They Lead in a Totally Unique Way) — and the newest Zingerman's venture is Miss Kim, a Korean restaurant located just two blocks from Zingerman's Delicatessen.
This past December , the newest Zingerman’s business, Miss Kim’s Korean Kitchen and Bar, opened in Kerrytown on Kingsley Street, just a block and a half to the west of the Deli. Aside from the relatively unimportant reality that I love all its intrinsic alliteration—Miss Kim’s Korean cooking in Kerrytown on Kingsley—I and pretty much everyone at Zingerman’s are super excited about this new opening!
Managing Partner Ji Hye (pronounced “Gee-Hey”) Kim is at the helm, cooking in the kitchen, greeting guests in the dining room, studying culture and history, sharing her culture . . . and doing all the eighteen thousand little things that chef-owners of restaurants—Korean or otherwise—do every day! If you come by you’re pretty likely to meet her in person.
Like all of us who work here and all of the business in the Zingerman’s Community, Miss Kim will be highly imperfect; new restaurants in particular, take time to get going and work out the kinks. Imperfections and all, I’m extremely excited that this long time project is coming to fruition!!
Why am I so excited? Let me count the ways!
1. Really Great Korean Food!
I know it’s early in the long (I figure seven or eight years) process that it takes to really craft a great restaurant, but I’m convinced that the food is going to be really special. And in case you haven’t noticed, I really like good food! As per our guiding principles the food at Miss Kim will be full-flavored and traditional.
What will the menu be like? Some of the dishes you may know, like bi bim bap, kim chee and the pork buns that Ji Hye has spent four years perfecting at our San St. cart. Other dishes will likely be new to you—buh-sut-jook (black rice and barley porridge), . . and my personal favorite - tteok-bokki – strips of spicy rice cake with pork topped with a poached egg. The menu will evolve and improve over time. We’re excited to get going.
2. Helping to make dreams come true!
When Paul or I teach our new staff orientation we tell everyone that our hope is that one or two of them will go on to become managing partners in the Zingerman’s Community of Businesses. That the only criteria need to qualify to really start the ball rolling are a commitment to our shared values, vision and mission, the willingness to learn, to work hard, care about collaboration, be committed to the community (both the Ann Arbor community and the Zingerman’s Community). Obviously it’s a long ways to go to become a partner from us making that initial invitation to a group of new staff members to actually having it happen. But the point is that we believe—strongly—that everyone we encounter is capable and creative enough to make it happen. And when it does . . . that’s really what our work is all about. Opening Miss Kim is one of the high points in our organizational history.
3. Living our vision and values
Back in 2007 we agreed on our 2020 vision for the Zingerman’s Community of Businesses. The document is nine pages long and details what our organization will look like when we get to 2020. (If you want to see the vision email me at email@example.com.) Getting Miss Kim’s going is a big part of making that vision a reality—to establish another local business, led by a passionate managing partner whose will be actively present on site, someone who cares deeply about the cooking and culture that his or her business is all about. This project is literally six-plus years of hard work by Ji Hye and others here to make Miss Kim a reality. I’m so honored to help bring her dreams to fruition. Love and hard work and commitment to diversity and study and tradition and innovation really can pay off. Ji Hye and Miss Kim are living proof.
4. The chance to do something special
As per Ji Hye’s vision, this is a chance to put the highest quality ingredients—the same kinds of things we’d use at the Deli, the Roadhouse, the Bakehouse, etc. —into the mix of traditional Korean recipes. Pork is coming from Niman Ranch, Black Rice from Anson Mills, produce where we can (stay tuned for spring—it’s right around the corner, right?), spices from our friends at Epices de Cru in Montreal . . . and much, much more! Oh yeah, there’s a bar and a wine list and beer and a whole range of non alcoholic drinks. It’s all making me hungry right now as I think about it.
5. Contributing positively to our community
In nature, the healthiest ecosystems are the most diverse. We hope from the heart, with all we’ve got, that Miss Kim will help make Ann Arbor a better place to live and eat. Bringing something special, a new style of dining, a new perspective from a smart, creative woman whose formal education, degree and training was not in the food business, bringing positive energy, home kim chee, tteok-bokki, dahk-gang-jung and other great tasting treats in a down to earth and welcoming environment will help in some small way to enhance this already wonderful Washtenaw County community in which we live and work. Thank you for thirty-five years of support, thank you for helping to make Zingerman’s what it is. We hope our latest chapter will make all of those just a bit more positive than they already were. Thank you for the chance to make a difference!
What do you think? Meet me at Miss Kim?
***This article has been edited for space, and originally appeared in the Jan/Feb edition of the Zingerman's newsletter. The entire article is available HERE. Zingerman's is celebrating its 35th Anniversary this year!