Los Angeles

Mama's Drive-By Kitchen Helps LA's Struggling Immigrant Mom and Pop Restaurants

Mama's Drive-By Kitchen's goal is to boost sales and make mom and pop food more available for everyone.

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It's LA's bread and butter -- immigrant-owned mom and pop restaurants that make up the city's diverse food scene.

They've been struggling during the coronavirus pandemic, but a group is reaching out to not only save jobs but to preserve the city's dining culture. The goal of Mama's Drive-By Kitchen is to boost sales and make mom and pop food more available for everyone.

They work with restaurants to do big pre-orders. Then, they pick up that food and drop it off at locations all around LA.

Cooking up their family specialty, the owners of Jun Won in Korea Town were getting ready earlier this week to prepare a big order.

"These people are doing such a good work for these communities, not just Korean, all immigrant small mom and pop stores like us," Jeff Jun, owner of Jun Won, said.

Jeff Jun works alongside his mom Jung Ye Jun who opened this restaurant in 1994. COVID-19 has had a crippling effect on their business. After struggling for months on to-go orders and recently being broken into, they've decided to shut their doors.

"Very emotional. I've put my sweat, 20s and 30s into this restaurant, and to let it go like this, but I am still young," Jun said. "I will come back".


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To help them make some money on the way out and to help other restaurants suffering during the pandemic, the organizers of Mama's Drive-By kitchen are trying to give them a boost.

This is kind of selfish, in a way, because we don't want these places to close down, and we want all the good food.

Alice Han, Mama's Drive-By Kitchen

"This is kind of selfish in a way because we don't want these places to close down and we want all the good food," Alice Han, of Mama's Drive-By Kitchen, said.

Han and Jared Jue have been working with a handful of small family restaurants. They have customers order ahead and they pick up the food and drop it off at specific locations.

"People are able to pre-order it and pick it up a few days later," Jared Jue, Mama's founder, said. "What's cool about Drive-By Kitchen is that we have multiple locations across Los Angeles."

They hope to preserve different cultures kept alive by food and give hope to those that are hanging on.

"Our goal is just to keep these businesses alive so that after this shutdown we could all sit down and enjoy a good meal at a restaurant," Han said.

Even though Jun Won is going out with a bang and a lot of support, they're hopeful maybe one day they can start back up again and they have advice for anyone who is also having a hard time.

"Hang in there and stay safe, hope for the best," Jun said. "I am sure when there is dark, there is going to be light."

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