San Korean Cafe
“Everyone helped me grow in the ways I needed and were an important aspect in my business growth. They helped me create a plan that worked, strategies that could be realisticallyimplemented and tracked, knowledge of cash flow analysis and pricing, and acquire funding when needed.”
San Korean Cafe opened in November 2022 and is Marin County’s first Korean food establishment. Owner Monica Chang watched her father start with $50 in his pocket after immigrating to Canada, and through dedication and ethical practices, grew his business to support the family. Inspired by this, Monica knew from a young age that she wanted to start her own business.
Owner Monica Chang is a native of Gwangju, Korea, the region famous for its kimchi and home to the annual World Kimchi Festival. Monica knew from a young age that she wanted to start her own business. She grew up eating family recipes passed down through the generations and always felt proud of Korean food. She has a deep passion to share these delicacies with others and help people have a health-conscious lifestyle with food that is high in fiber, probiotic and gluten-free without compromising taste. Her customers always tell her how clean, fresh and delicious the food is. Almost all products are made from scratch using local ingredients.
During the pandemic the commercial kitchen she used became overcrowded and expensive, so she laid out a new plan of having her own space. Thus birthed the creation of SAN Korean Cafe which opened in November 2022. Although the doors opened in 2022, it took some time to be fully functional as it was not easy to find the right employees to train in the traditional Korean cooking methods.
Monica first came to the Marin SBDC in 2016 to launch her products. She was paired with
SBDC Advisor Anni Minuzzo who became her sage throughout these years. Since Anni
previously owned her own food product business and knew the pitfalls of manufacturing and
wholesale distribution, she helped Monica overcome barriers and get into the local markets with
Anni worked with Monica on determining best strategies such as entering the Mill Valley Wine
and Food Tasting Festival, review of ingredients and cost analysis, pricing, certifications, getting
her connected to other professionals to help with branding and labels, review of procedures,
determining a strategy to move to a co-packing facility and much more.
As Monica started to grow her business she realized she needed marketing and social media
support and was connected to SBDC Stephanie Koehler. Together, they worked on campaigns
and target niches to grow awareness and visibility of her products.
With the opening of the cafe, Monica needed additional cash to finalize the space and worked
with SBDC Advisor John DeGaetano to acquire this funding.
- Starting her business and getting her products into 11 stores around the Bay Area
- Opening up her cafe in November 2022
- Hiring 1 full time and 2 part time employees
- Acquiring $25,000 Working Solutions Loan
- Investing $150,000 into her business to start the café
- Finding ways to invest into her business to make sure it grew
- Creating a healthy environment with food but also as an employer with her team – to be an example of running a business in a positive way – integrated and balanced – leading with actions not just words.