wes yoo

Fabulous People: Wes Yoo

Wes Yoo is the owner and chef of Wero, a modern Korean comfort restaurant in Seattle. “[It has] modernized and elevated takes of authentic Korean flavors I grew up with in Seoul.” Learn about Wes Yoo…

Hometown: Seoul, Korea

First job: Retail associate at a department store 

Favorite ways to spend your free time in WA: Riding my motorcycle, pretending to play golf (this is the best way I can describe my game), checking out new restaurants and bars…you know, for “research.”

Your biggest accomplishment and why: I came to the States as a teenager without my parents. I eventually moved to Seattle not having anything here, and it somehow led to owning a business. There was overcoming the pandemic, and I just keep learning and looking for ways to achieve more. I think my biggest accomplishment is yet to come. 

The biggest obstacle you overcame: When I moved to Seattle, I had never been here, didn’t know anyone here, didn’t have a job and very little money. I drove to a potential sublet in a house to meet the housemates at around 10 p.m. after driving for 15 hours. We got along, so I moved in with my air mattress. The next morning, I woke up not knowing where I was or how I was going to continue on. Eventually, I got a job and made it through. I’ve maybe had scarier obstacles before then and plenty after that day. But since that time, I know I can get through anything. The pandemic re-taught that lesson to me: failures are only failures if you stop after failing. If you keep going and overcome it, it’s just a lesson along the way. 

Someone who inspires you and why: My mother. We’ve been through a lot as a family and her perseverance kept us going and taught me a lot. And having made it through, the struggles gave me the confidence to be a risk taker and be in business. No matter what happens, I know I’ll be alright because I know I can fight through it.  

Advice to someone pursuing a career path in what you do: The cliché of it being “hard work” is only sort of correct. It’s harder. It’s not a business to get in unless you really care. You have to care about your team, your guests, your product, and everything. It can seem harsh but also rewarding because the response is so immediate. There aren’t many things you can sell where the customer uses or consumes the product right there in plain view. Even when they don’t say anything directly, you can see in their faces if they’re happy with your work or not. If you focus on the positivity and learn to take constructive criticism and respond well, it can be really rewarding. If you want to run a restaurant someday, start by working in one and learn as much as you can. You’ll be so glad later. 

Favorite quote: “I will not lose, for even in defeat, there’s a valuable lesson learned so it evens it up for me.” And, “I’d rather die enormous than live dormant.”

Something someone would be surprised to learn about you: There was a time when I thought I wanted to pursue a career in photography. However, I ran into a small obstacle in the form of lack of talent.

What makes someone fabulous: Their ability to see the fabulous-ness in others. Everyone is fabulous in some way and has something fabulous to offer. 

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