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Shoreline restaurant owner fights to survive financial struggles from the pandemic

Sarah Kim's husband passed away in 2018 leaving her to run the restaurant by herself. Now COVID-19 has caused a slump in business.

SHORELINE, Wash. — A Shoreline restaurant KING 5 featured two years ago overcame financial struggles thanks to support from the community, but now the coronavirus pandemic is putting it at risk of shutting down again.

Sarah Kim has owned Teriyaki Plus in Shoreline for over a decade. She spoke to KING 5 in Korean, her native language, through a family friend who translated.

"14 years," said Kim, referring to how long her family has owned the restaurants. She does everything in the restaurant including cooking, cleaning, answering the phone, and even maintenance. 

"If my husband was watching he would say, ‘You’re doing well,’" she said.

Her husband died of liver cancer five years ago, leaving her to run the restaurant they built together, all on her own.

KING 5 featured Kim in 2018. She was in a tough financial spot still learning to run the business in her husband’s absence. But she made it through thanks to her loyal customers.

“Keep going and I can do it,” she said in 2018.

Then this year COVID-19 threw another curveball at Kim and the restaurant.

“Business is slow, but I’m survival,” she said. With business down, bills are piling up.

She said, rent, utilities, and other expenses are hard to pay but she needs to keep the restaurant open to honor her late husband.

Her mother is back in Korea and sick in the hospital. She can’t visit her because of travel restrictions.

“Right now, sometimes I have to work overnight. My mom is in Korea and I am here without anyone. I cook the food like I do for myself, like I would prepare food for my family,” said Kim through her translator.

The food she cooks is all from scratch and made from the heart.

“Thank you very much, everybody,” she said.

She’s thankful for the customers that support her and is hopeful that more will come.

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