Inspiring the next generation of restaurant entrepreneurs
Young Korean entrepreneur Sang Hoon (Steven) Lee hit the ground running after graduating from Le Cordon Bleu Adelaide with coveted roles as Restaurant Manager, National Sales Executive, Managing Director, and today, co-owns four thriving restaurants in Adelaide with his partnership group, Plus 82.
A regular guest speaker at Le Cordon Bleu Australia events, Steven’s success continues to inspire the next generation of entrepreneurs, receiving his most recent award at the 2019 Restaraunt & Catering Hostplus Awards for Excellence for Best Asian Restaurant (South Australia) for Plus 82 Pocha. We interviewed Steven at his restaurant, Mimi where he kindly shared his insights and experiences with us.
Where did you study hospitality?
I studied a Bachelor of Business (International Hotel Management) at Le Cordon Bleu Adelaide, graduating in 2010. In the last 9 years I’ve worked as Restaurant Manager at Intercontinental Adelaide, Managing Director at La Bonne Table, National Sales Executive for Signature Wines, and now, I’m one of four restaurant owners with Plus 82.
Tell us about the Plus 82 partnership.
Plus 82 is a partnership with four Le Cordon Bleu Adelaide alumni who together own four restaurants in Adelaide’s CBD. The partnership is with myself, Naphachama (Nokie) Hongsakaola, Hyun-woo Kang, and Woojong (Terry) Hwang. Our restaurants have four different cuisine styles - Pocha (Korean Street food), Lite (take away), Gogi (Korean BBQ), and Mimi (Thai contemporary). I met my business partners at Le Cordon Bleu Adelaide during our Bachelor of Business (International Hotel Management) degrees. We talked about our dreams and ideas alot while we were studying.
Why did you become an entrepreneur?
I had to follow my passion. I always wanted to open my own restaurant and I was lucky to find partners who shared the same vision. We're all from Korea and we wanted to open a restaurant offering Korean Street Food because it was a new trend. My partners and I talked about it for about two years. We planned the concept, marketing, staff, then when all our ideas came together we opened the first restaurant, Pocha.
How do you market your restaurants?
Social media is really important these days. And you certainly need to be on top of it in order to have a successful business. We've found that Instagram is more popular these days than Facebook. We are on Uber Eats because that's what people want. We use WeChat, the Chinese app, to bring in Chinese clients. When we put something on Instagram, people look at it and say: ‘Oh, I want to try this dish.’ Digital media is one of the most important marketing tools these days.
Did Le Cordon Bleu prepare you for industry?
Everything I learned at Le Cordon Bleu can be used in real life. I especially enjoyed studying Food and Beverage Service, it gave me and understanding of what guest’s want and need, and how to connect into that. Le Cordon Bleu has taught me that it's all about building relationships.
How has Le Cordon Bleu supported your career?
I’ve stayed in touch with Le Cordon Bleu lecturers and staff. Every year they host an event in our restaurant, so it's good to nurture that relationship. Le Cordon Bleu has always been supportive of us.
Why did you want to study hospitality?
All my family is in hospitality. My sister is a flight attendant, my mum ran a café and restaurant, my dad ran a hotel overseas. Watching them, I’ve always wanted to do it. And they're really proud of me. My parents suggested I go to Le Cordon Bleu in the first place and I didn’t hesitate!
Any advice for aspiring hospitality entrepreneurs?
You must have a passion for hospitality. You need to plan really well. You need to be very organized. And you need a very clear goal. And if you just keep working hard for it, you'll achieve it!
What's next for your partnership - Plus 82?
We want to offer consulting services to budding entrepreneurs, to help them become part of our business community and share our hard-earned knowledge and experience. Sometimes it just helps to connect people to similar businesses.
CRICOS 02380M / RTO 4959