Posted by: evedlewis | March 7, 2011

Back In Korea — Cafe Lemon Table

How many times has this happened to you: You go out to eat at a restaurant, you finish your meal, you go up to the counter to pay for you meal, and the clerk says, “I’m sorry, your card did not work — please come back and pay later.”

Well, this happened to me in Korea (again), during my first week back in Jeonju, and I’m so glad to be re-united with my people again. 😉  There is a new restaurant in my hood called “Café Lemon Table.” (As of 2/2011)  The “French-inspired” interior and exterior décor is AHHH–MAZZZING — though the food is not really French.  I love the exposed brick and stucco walls, the shinny floors, the vibrant colors, the gorgeous wall mural, the comfy pillows, the beautiful accent lights and the attentive staff.  Ahhhh — Every single detail is perfect.

My meal started with two fresh and flaky, warm pieces of croissant bread sticks, served with honey.  Ummmm — VERY YUMMY.  I ordered the burger and fries set from the menu, which arrived at my table within 5-10 minutes of placing the order.  Though I was not impressed with the taste of the burger, the French fries were superb, and I LOVE the small portion size.  You literally get 10 fries, which I think is more than plenty as a side dish.  I personally prefer the taste of the meat at “Krazy Burger”, but I will certainly go back to this restaurant to taste some of their other dishes like: the mushroom fettuccine, the grilled chicken sandwich, the pizzas, the salads and the honey pie.  I’m especially interested in the “honey pie” — very curious to find out what this will be like. 😉  I’m assuming it’s like a “sweet pizza”.

After eating, I went to the counter to pay for my meal, but my debit card would not work.  The manager and the employees were very apologetic, and tried to run my card several times.  I did not have any cash on me, so I told them that I would come back later to pay with cash.  They asked me to write down my name and a phone number, and they continued to say, “I’m sorry” while wishing me a good day.

I must admit that this has actually happened to me before (in Korea and in the states).  When this happens in Korea, people are typically understanding and trust that you will come back to pay your tab.  In the states, people usually give you the side-eye, and they don’t care much about whatever “good excuse” you may have for not paying your bill at the time of service.  I understand that people in the states tend to be more jaded and cautious for good reason.  However, I’m glad to be back in a place that feels so warm, welcoming, friendly and understanding.

Not to say that every single place in Korea conducts business this way.  However, my experience has been that MOST businesses in Korea REALLY VALUE their customers, and they really want them to have an enjoyable experience so the customers will return.  The staff members are typically extremely helpful, friendly and attentive (In Jeonju at least).  You will see the workers RUNNING to get what you request.  I RARELY saw a server or employee “RUN” before coming to Korea.  This customer-focused behavior and attitude is just not as common and wide-spread in the states.  There is nothing like being greeted with a smile, being bowed at respectfully and being treated like royalty when you are spending your money on a service.  Also, keep in mind that TIPPING is prohibited in Korea.  You are not  “allowed to tip”, because this high-level of customer service is simply the norm and expected.

Korea also has the “bell system” in place.  Most of the restaurants have “bells” on the tables that you can ring to get immediate attention when you need something.  The wait staff will typically scurry over to see what you want and quickly return with what was requested.  Yes, there are times when a Korean restaurant will not have what you desire, or they may not be willing to accommodate your “special request” (which can be annoying), but for the most part, the staff will bend over backwards to make sure you are happy.

I did frequent a restaurant called “The Boulevard Diner” on Holcomb Bridge Road in Sandy Springs (Atlanta), which catered to customer satisfaction.  The owner, Abass, was very involved with making sure his customers were pleased with everything.  Abass would always come out and speak to all the customers to make them feel welcome and to make sure they were satisfied.  I’m not sure if he would have let me leave without paying for dinner (he probably would have), but he was very interested in customer happiness nonetheless.  In fact, I typically frequent restaurants that not only have great food, but also honor and appreciate their customers.  I have been to a zillion “fancy shmancy” restaurants in Atlanta, and of course, they tend to have excellent customer service.  However, it seems that MOST Korean restaurants care about their customers — not just the “fancy ones.”

This was a brand new restaurant that just opened in Jeonju.  They had never seen me in there before.  I was thankful that the owner allowed me to settle my tab later, and I have already been back a few times with my friends.

My heart glows for Korea, and I swear the people here can feel it.  I continue to receive food offerings on a constant basis.  I was walking with my assistant director this week, and we passed by a fruit stand.  I wanted to purchase two oranges, but the fruit guy insisted that I simply take them for free.  Just recently, I was at a doughnut shop with friends, and the ladies behind the counter gave us all a free doughnut to sample.  As mentioned in a previous post, my friend and I received free blankets from Papa John’s after our meal there.  It’s really weird, but I really appreciate all of these simple acts of kindness.  It’s great to be back in the generous land of Korea for another year.

Update: Café Lemon Table is now one of my favorite restaurants in Jeonju.  The menu selection is huge and the prices are reasonable.  All of the menu items I’ve tried have been tasty (with the exception of the burgers).  A large group of friends and I went there AGAIN for dinner, and we all sampled several food items, which were all exceptional.  I have now had the pasta dishes, the cream cheese pizza, the chicken salad, and the chicken dish with a chili glaze sauce.  At some point, I’d like to try their steak, and I still haven’t tried the honey pie yet.

Cafe Lemon Table is near the Jeonju River Bridge in Jung-Wha-San-Dong.  Right next to the BMW dealership on the main strip.  Check my other post in the FOOD folder for complete directions and a list of other great restaurants in the area.

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Responses

  1. YUM!!!!!!!!!!! I love your adventures and so happy to be able to read about your return to Korea. Still think about embarking on that journey one day.


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