In March 2010, a food website, Seoul Eats, wrote a review about one of Hong Seok-cheon’s famous cafés, My Chelsea.
In the review, the website said that ‘the restaurant has a very particular sense of style and cool’. The review also praised Hong Seok-cheon’s eye for ‘cool and unique interiors’ and ‘generally creative and fun menus’.
Even though they praised the interior, they also criticized a few things including the smell, saying that they were ‘offended by a bathroom smell mixed with bathroom fragrance.’ and concluded that it was kinda gross.
Regarding the food, the website also criticized it and wrote that the bread was ‘undercooked so it had a soft, dry, yeasty taste’ and tasted like ‘soft, crumbly beer’.
In the picture: Grilled Vegetable Salad (13,000)
They, however, praised the salad, for its ‘very nice and accented springy flavor, sesame leaf pesto dressing’ and even goes further by saying that they would gladly go back for the salad.
In the picture: Hot Chicken with Soy Rice (W 15,000)
But, they criticized other dishes, namely the ‘Hot Chicken with soy rice’ menu. Even though the presentation was excellent, they realized that the chicken was only a half slice that was coated in a red sauce with stir-fried garlic, soy sauce, and chilies on top of rice. For them, the dishes were not worth the price and hype.
But in conclusion, they wrote a pretty good review, saying: “My Chelsea is not really a place to eat, but a place to be seen. If you are a sleek, thin person that wants to maintain their attractiveness and look pretty while eating, then My Chelsea is your place. For me, if I want a real New York Style brunch, I’ll be heading elsewhere.”
Below is some other customers reviews about My Chelsea on Tripadvisor:
“This is one of my favorite places in Seoul. Don’t miss if you don’t want to stay in the middle of the Itaewon area, very close to many pubs to enjoy drinking until late at night. They make very good Italian style pizza, pasta and even that is not bad. The price is ok. Recommend it if you are looking for nothing special but in a very convenient location.”
“This place is the first of many opened by local actors. Very good pizza and prompt service. I would recommend. Back from the main street of Itaewon. Bars everywhere, just opposite the Copacabana Grill.”
Hmm… not a pretty bad review, right?
The Restaurant Has Closed Down
Unfortunately, in early December 2019, one of Hong Seok-cheon;s Itaewon restaurants which he had been operating for 14 years had to close due to the expensive rents, a sharp rise in the minimum wage for workers, and the changing landscape of the streets.
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지난 14년간 #이태원 #마이타이 를 사랑해주신분들 모든분들께 진심으로 감사드립니다 저를 오늘에 있게 해준 정말 많은 이야기를 담고있는 마이타이를 이번주 12월 9일까지만 영업을 하고 문을 닫습니다 마음이 참 슬프네여 하나하나 제가 다 만들어놓은 공간인데 이제 없어진다는게 돈을 떠나 이공간을 거쳐간 모든 사람들에게 고마움을 전하고싶군요 여러가지 할말은 많지만 좀 후에 제가 괜찮을때 말씀드릴게여 전 조만간 다른 이야기로 돌아올게여 그래도 이태원 마이첼시와 구리 마이첼시 경리단 마이스카이 그리고 새로운 공간 많이 사랑해주세여 해밀톤뒷골목에 이제 레스토랑은 마이첼시 하나군요 외롭지만 버텨볼게여 구청에서 명명한 세계음식거리라는 이름은 이제 포차거리라고 이름을 바꿔야할듯요 골목은 그렇게 변합니다
He posted a picture of the restaurant on his Instagram on December 6th, 2019, writing in his caption that the restaurant only stayed open until December 9th, 2019, before it would be shut down forever. He wrote a heartbreaking caption, “My heart is breaking. This is a place I created one small piece at a time…”
He continued, stating: “Rather than people spending money here, I want to thank everyone who has come through this space. I have many things to say but I’ll tell you later when I’m feeling better. In a little while, I’ll come back… I feel lonely but I’ll try to bear it. My restaurant used to be called a gathering of wonderful foods around the world but now it’s just a common street stall. How neighborhoods change.”
Hong Seok-cheon, who has been in the restaurant business for quite a long time, has complained that the situation in Itaewon has been difficult since last year, and it’s now the time to say bye-bye for one of his beloved restaurants.
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#이태원 에 있는 #마이첼시 오픈한지 12년쯤 됬는데 단 하루도 쉬지도 않고 영업하던 가게입니다 #코로나19 때문에 지난주부터 잠시 휴업하고있습니다 눈물이나네여 월세는 935만원정도입니다 이왕에 문닫고 쉬는데 번뜩 생각이 드네여 혹시 이공간을 이용하고픈 열정넘치고 컨텐츠좋은 분들 연락주세여 함께 재밌게 할수있을거같은데 음식이어도좋고 플리마켓해도되고 #유투브 촬영도좋고 지자체와 연결해서 특산물 #유통도좋고 ㅎㅎㅎ앞으로 제가 하려고하는 온라인으로 유통할수있는 컨텐츠여도 좋습니다 월세는 제가 내겟습니다 서울 그안에 #이태원 메인상권에 #팝업 으로라도 본인들 소개하고픈 아이템이있으면 연락꼭주세여 디엠으로 연락주시면됩니다..이렇게 경기가안좋을때는 아이디어와 열정을 모아서 서로가 도움되는 일을 해야 답이나올듯하네여 새롭게 출발해보죠 가만이 앉아 코로나19에 무너질순없겟네여 힘내보자구여 #대구경북화이팅 하세여 자영업자 모두 힘내세여 중소 대기업 모두 힘내시구요 방역에힘쓰시는 모든분들 기운내세요 대한민국 힘냅시다
In March 2020, the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak hit South Korea pretty badly. The impact of that outbreak is the closing of a few businesses, including Hong Seok-cheon’s restaurants. Hong Seok-cheon shared this sad news on March 16th, 2020, along with some photos of his empty restaurant on Instagram and a statement about pausing the business.
He wrote on the caption, “It’s been about 12 years since My Chelsea opened in Itaewon and it’s a store that I’ve run without resting for a single day. It’s temporarily shut down since last week due to COVID-19. I’m tearing up. The monthly rent alone is 9.35 million won (approximately $7,600). I’m taking this time to rest and it gave me a thought. If there is anyone who wants to use this space, is overflowing with passion, and makes good content, please contact me. I think we could have fun together, whether it be food, a flea market, filming for YouTube, or distributing specialty products in connection with the local government [laughter]. It can also be content that I’m planning to share online.”
He continued, “I’ll pay the rent. Please contact me if you have a pop-up store in the main area of Itaewon in Seoul and have items you want to introduce to customers. You can contact me via direct message. When the economy is poor like this, I think the answer is to gather ideas and passion to help each other. Let’s have a new start. I will not sit still and be destroyed by COVID-19. Let’s try to gain strength. Good luck to the city of Daegu and North Gyeongsang Province. To those who are self-employed, please gain strength. Small businesses, I hope all of you will gain strength. Everyone working to stop the outbreak, please hang in there. Let’s keep our chin up, South Korea.”
Find strength, Hong.
Now, those are all the information and updates that you need to know regarding Hong Seok-cheon’s restaurant business! Do you have any thoughts? Share them with us in the comment section below!