Korean food meets the West Midlands

The mass of BBQ restaurants opening in the UK currently is old news as is the popularity of Korean cuisine. Superstar BBQ and Olle are amongst the few restaurants to date which combine the two with a Korean BBQ concept which is proving successful.

Earlier this year we assisted the entrepreneurial team behind Chi Bar, Coventry with their exciting new venture, Jinseon – a Korean BBQ restaurant in the heart of the West Midlands city. Kennie Tsang and James Kwong were really hands on with the unique development and ensured that their vision was realised and that they achieved the best cost in all areas of the project. Below, Kennie gives an insight into the concept and the design process;

Please explain the Jinseon concept and what Jinseon means 

Jinseon is a a charcoal fired Korean BBQ restaurant where customers do the cooking cook their table. The smokey flavours of the food are at their best when cooked on traditional charcoal as opposed to other cooking methods and provides a unique selling point. It is a really sociable fun concept, with the idea of sharing food and experiences. Karaoke is also on offer in a private VIP area. Jinseon loosely interprets to “entrance/ grand archway” of the kitchen in a Korean palace and our logo resembles a BBQ with a smoking chimney above.

Who are your target customers?

All ages from students to families. We aim to have a lively fun atmosphere. It was  important that the design was “on trend” but not at the expense of alienating potential customers.

How do you feel that the design draws customers in?

Jones AD suggested that we locate high tables near the shopfront so that the restaurant bar area looks atmospheric and busy from the outside. The light fittings and signage that were selected give a great glow from the outside. We ensured bold colours were used to catch people’s eye. The delicious BBQ smell is also a big help!

What were the design influences that you gave in your brief to the designers?

After a trip to Korea, we decided it was vital to incorporate popular Korean influences into the design such as Korean pop shown on TV screens. Ultimately, we wanted the food to do the talking and the design of the interior should be a great backdrop to the customer experience. However, we felt that the design should be bold and fun and that an industrial feel would suit the building.

What other Korean influences did you include?

We sell Korean soft drinks, beers, cocktails and spirits such as Soju. All are proving very popular as they are unique to the area.

How did Jones AD assist with the planning of the space?

We wanted the kitchen to be open and as visible as possible from the entrance and dining space. It made sense to link in as efficiently as possible to the exiting services. The bar is opposite the entrance so that customers can be greeted by a member of staff as soon as they enter.

What were the challenges of the development?

Obviously the individual extraction from the table cooking and linking in with the building’s infrastructure was tricky and costly to implement. We kept costs low by using our procurement routes from China for some of the fixture and fittings but it was a challenge coordinating this from the UK.

What are your favourite parts of the restaurant?

We love the booths and these have proved the most popular seats with our customers. The huge illuminated back bar incorporating screens is also a great feature. We genuinely love the look and feel of the space – the finishes, lighting, furniture have all come together perfectly.

How has Jinseon been received by your customers?

Now that word is spread, Jinseon is proving really popular. Feedback has been great, especially on TripAdviser and popular blogs, and sales are on target. Now that students are just about to return to the city we are expecting trade to peak.

Do you have any plans for a next venture and do you plan to expand the brand?

At the moment with us only recently opening, it’s too early to know. But keep an eye out, we would love to see more of our Korean BBQ’s around!