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[CARD NEWS: Opinion]The second life of Churros Grandpa

At the Yeouido Park night market, one grandpa’s churros are the hottest food around. For the owner of the food truck, Lee Kyung-jae, making churros is more than a job - it’s a dream come true.

Apr 24,2017
The second life of Churros Grandpa

1) Weekends at Yeouido Park these days are filled with people savoring the warmth of spring, and the climax comes in the evening, when food trucks begin parking alongside the river.

2) At the food truck night market, people form huge lines, following the trucks to grab a bite. The line to taste the “Grandpa Churros” is always the longest.

3) As the unusual taste of the churros has gone viral online, they became the first truck at the market to completely sell out. The secret behind these popular churros is revealed when you reach the end of the line ― Lee Kyung-jae, the owner of the truck, who is nicknamed “Churros Grandpa.”

4) Before he began selling churros, 67-year-old Lee was an acclaimed chef at Seoul National University, where he worked over 35 years from 1979 to 2014.

5) In December of 2014, however, Chef Lee had no choice but to leave his job. As the university incorporated, the school made contracts with food service companies to operate the cafeterias. There was no room for Chef Lee at the job he devoted almost half his life to.

6) As Lee was depressed after his retirement, his family brought him on a trip to Hawaii to refresh him. On the trip, he witnessed a scene which inspired him to start the second half of his life.

7) “I saw the guy who I assumed to be a similar age as me selling food at his food truck which was parked alongside the beach, chatting with young people. You don’t know how much I envied him. All of a sudden, I thought to myself, ‘This is the one. I can do this as well!’”

8) As soon as he came back from the Hawaii trip, he buckled down to launch his own “churros truck.” Although his family dissuaded him from starting the business, after his 30 years of food service experience, he was confident.

9) His special churros recipe, which uses sweet rice, was a huge hit. In addition to that, Lee’s sincerity made people revisit his place. Good word about his food trucks spread, improving his business.

10) “My grandson loves churros so much that he eats them two to three times a week. I have to put care into what my grandson will eat.” – Lee

11) Although he sometimes feels tired as more and more customers visit his truck, he never broke his promise to “be a nice grandpa” and “use healthy ingredients.”

12) “Lots of people, including franchise companies, asked me to join, but if I do so, the taste will never be the same as now. I want to treat the customers the best.”

Lee’s churros got so famous that some people approached him to join partnerships. However, Lee’s firm belief in his food and service kept him away from expanding his business.

13) “I will earn more money if I sell pre-made churros. But it should not be done that way. Even though it’s tiring to sell churros made at the spot, this is the way I feel satisfied with.”

14) Churros Grandpa Lee always welcomes his customers with a smile. To Grandpa Lee, the churro truck is more than a business ― it’s an opportunity for the second part of his life.

15) The Churros Grandpa proved that age is not everything. We wish Grandpa Lee and his churros give inspiration to many other older people to turn their imaginary new lives into realities.


Directed by Lee Jeong-bong
Constructed by Kim Min-pyo
Designed by Bae Seok-yeoung
Translated by Son Min-young
Edited by James Constant


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