The strain of the COVID-19 pandemic is starting to take its toll on Koreatown, which will lose one of its most cherished Korean restaurants, Jun Won, at the end of this week. The homestyle restaurant founded by Jung Ye Jun and operated along with her son Jeff Jun, Jun Won had only recently reopened in a new location along Western Avenue in 2016. Previously Jun Won had occupied a space along 8th Street for over twenty years, making it one of the most successful and longest running traditional Korean restaurants. Jun Won also had a banchan store on 8th Street that closed a few years ago despite producing some of the city’s best Korean prepared dishes.
In an Instagram post, Jeff Jun tells that after 26 years in business, the restaurant would be closing due to the pandemic and its economic fallout. In a phone call to Eater, Won said that Jun Won’s food just wasn’t as adaptable to takeout, though the place did get steady business in the first few months of the pandemic. Still, larger format dishes like braised short ribs, bossam, and spicy braised black cod just don’t travel as well as other Korean foods. In addition, its semi-hidden location in a strip mall didn’t make Jun Won conducive to setting up an outdoor dining area. Its indoor dining room has been closed ever since the stay-at-home order issued by city and county officials in March. And finally the price point at Jun Won, while very reasonable for the quality, just weren’t as accessible due to the time required to prepare a lot of the dishes.
There’s no word on whether Jun Won will come back, but fans of the restaurant will have the rest of this week to call in and pick up some of the most remarkable Korean food ever seen in Los Angeles. In order to help the last week of business, Mama Los Angeles on Instagram will be taking preorders for Jun Won. With little-to-no relief in sight for small business operators, one wonders how many of these mom and pop restaurants in Koreatown can survive the pandemic’s economic fallout.