Business

"New ownership, same familiar name"

"John's Kitsap Cafe has been without a John for the past seven months, but its customers don't seem to have noticed.The Port Orchard eatery, opened more than 20 years ago by John Salsmans, was sold last year by John Soo and Sarah Lee. They owned the establishment for three months before selling it to current owner Yoon Yi.Yi, a native of South Korea, has no intention of changing the name of the restaurant, primarily because of concern its regular customers would assume the menu had been changed from standard American cuisine to Korean.It hasn't. Except for adding teriyaki and yakisoba, John's Kitsap Cafe is still the same eating experience it's always been.It's American food, Yi said. I like American food. I ate American food in Korea.Yi first came to the United States with her husband and daughter in 1997. While her husband went to work at the family-owned K&J Market in Tacoma, Yi was a homemaker until purchasing the Port Orchard-area restaurant last summer.People told me running a restaurant was easy, she said. But it's really hard work. I like it, but it's a lot harder than people think.Located on Bethel Road south of the busy Sedgwick Road intersection, John's Kitsap Cafe was severely affected last spring and summer by road closures along Bethel in connection with the construction of a Fred Meyer store. The road reopened to traffic in September, and business at the restaurant is now getting back to normal. Had it not been for a strong following of devoted customers willing to drive around the detours, John's Kitsap Cafe might not have survived the experience, Yi said.Yi, who does the cooking herself for the dinner shift, has made few changes to the unpretentious establishment, other than to remove video games from an adjoining room and convert the space to additional dining area. The remodeling increased seating capacity to 49."

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