Young’s Kitchen has officially closed their doors as of Aug. 16 after failed lease negotiations with Nex Gen Enterprises, the Salem-based private estate and personal investment firm that owns the Monroe Avenue property. Kyunam Kim, Young’s owner for the last nine years, fought to convince Nex Gen’s principal, Patrick Collins, to allow the popular Korean and Japanese restaurant to remain in its old location. “We offered to pay so much more [in rent] but we can’t compete with national chains,” Kim lamented.
There was speculation that a national coffee chain would be moving in, but no evidence has surfaced to support this. A Starbucks spokesperson assured us that they are not opening any new stores in Corvallis. The most likely new tenant is the New Jersey-based sandwich restaurant chain Jersey Mike’s. According to Kim, he was told they would be the new tenants at his old property. When contacted for confirmation, a Jersey Mike’s spokesperson had this to say: “We have identified a site in Corvallis that we’re interested in,” the email read. “An executed lease is not yet on file so unfortunately, I do not have any information I can corroborate.” A Craigslist page advertising a job opening for a general manager at the incoming Jersey Mike’s in Corvallis backs up Kim’s assertion as well.
Kim seemed dejected when asked if Young’s Kitchen would be seen around in the near future. “Not much is going on,” he said, then paused. “We are still looking but don’t have any concrete plans. Money is just the number one problem.” For Kim to continue operating Young’s Kitchen, he needs to find a location already prepared to home a restaurant. This will allow him to cut down the costs of starting up in a new building.
“We were told we could stay here forever, but I ended up being too trusting,” he said.
It appears that Corvallis is trading its kimchee for cheesesteaks for the time being.
By Matt Walton