Oct 21, 2020
First established in Bellevue in 2011, Oma Bap relocated its flagship location to the Central District in 2014, and opened its Capitol Hill location in the fall of 2019 at 11th Ave. and E. Olive St., across from Cal Anderson Park. The fast-casual restaurant shares traditional and contemporary Korean cuisine by specializing in customizable bibimbap dishes where guests select a base or rice, noodles, or salad; add proteins like pork belly or short ribs; and then choose toppings like kimchi, fried egg, sauces, pickled radishes, and more.
Oma Bap is one of the 65 small businesses selected to receive the first-ever Ready for Business Fund grants, a program founded by GSBA and Comcast Washington to support LGBTQ, BIPOC, and women-owned Seattle-area small businesses most impacted by the COVID-19 economic crisis.
GSBA caught up with Oma Bap Owner Peter Pak to talk about Oma Bap’s origins, owning a business located near the center of demonstrations, and what he loves about Capitol Hill.
GSBA: What makes Oma Bap’s bibimbap so delicious? What inspired you to bring bibimbap and Korean cuisine to people in a fast-casual setting?
Peter: About 10 years ago, I was inspired by the combination of the “Chipotle movement” that really revolutionized the fast-casual industry with offering freshly made customizable burritos, and acknowledging that the American palate was really starting to expand to other ethnic foods, especially within Asian cuisine. With both trends in mind, I wanted to create a “Chipotle” of Korean food that would be inviting to everyone that mainly centered around the traditional Korean dish bibimbap. What makes our dish so delicious is that you have a variety of combinations that you can choose from. We offer a variety of freshly prepared toppings and sauces as well as cauliflower rice for those looking for a healthier option.
GSBA: How has Oma Bap pivoted to meet challenges brought about by the pandemic?
Peter: When the pandemic hit, it was a shock to us all and we did not know what to expect. We were fortunate that our model was already set up to primarily offer takeout, so we did not have to make too many adjustments besides mandating all workers and customers to wear masks, routine temperature checks with our employees, and social distancing practices.
GSBA: It’s been a tumultuous year on Capitol Hill. Despite all the challenges as a small business owner, what are some of the things you like about being a part of the neighborhood?
Peter: I have lived and worked in this neighborhood for about seven years now and love that there is such a strong community of support here. Despite these challenging times, both local and state government have offered no help at all, but it is nice that organizations such as GSBA and others in the area have offered their support.
GSBA: How will being a Ready for Business grant recipient help your business?
Peter: This grant will be a huge help to get our business back on track. Unfortunately six of our windows have been broken over the past couple of months and we have had to board our windows up again. As a result, our business has been negatively impacted because of the unattractiveness of being boarded up, and we look closed. We plan on using some of the money to paint a nice mural on our boards and use the rest to help with operational costs.
GSBA: What’s next for Oma Bap?Peter: We have been in business for about 10 years now and love being a part of this city and community. We hope that we can continue to operate our business for many more years to come and do our best to contribute back to our community.