Emart24 opens swanky cafes overlooking river

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Emart24 opens swanky cafes overlooking river


Two new branches from convenience store franchise Emart24 on each side of Dongjak Bridge have a bookstore and a cafe inside, as well as a view overlooking the Han River. The new stores will open on Friday. [EMART24]

Convenience store Emart24 is hoping to entice visitors to stay awhile at its two new shops overlooking the Han River that open this Friday.

The multi-level stores will each host a bookstore and cafe that will offer beer on tap.

Emart24 is taking over the spaces from two existing observatory cafes which face each other at the south end of Dongjak Bridge. Both spots are known for offering great sunset and nighttime views.

On the bridge’s western side, the cafe’s view includes N Seoul Tower, while the cafe on the east side looks toward the Moonlight Rainbow Fountain at Banpo Bridge.

Each Emart24 will have five floors: a cafe and snack zone on the first and second floor, a small bookshop and lounge on the third and fourth and an outdoor rooftop on the fifth.

“The new operations were aimed to look more like a cafe in order to break through the perception people have about convenience stores and make them into a cultural space,” said Emart24 in a statement released Wednesday.

True to this concept, Emart24 will only offer one-fifth as many products at the Han River shops as its normal branches. However, it will offer a wider variety of desserts, like cake, puddings and macarons. Baristas will also serve up coffee at the cafe.

Riverside drinkers will find two beers made from the craft brewery Devil’s Door, run by Emart24’s parent company Shinsegae, as well as Heineken draft beer. Wine options are set to be added in the future.

The Gureum and Noeul Cafes that Emart24 is taking over are two of eight observatory cafes on the Han River. These cafes were part of an initiative by the Seoul Metropolitan Government to develop cultural and tourism infrastructure on the banks of the Han back in 2009. The sites were rented out by the city and made into coffee shops or restaurants, but not all of the operations were successful.

An Emart24 spokesman said the company won a three-year contract for Gureum and Noeul, the two largest observatory cafes by the Han River.

“The company sees it more like an experiment rather than a profitable revenue source,” said the spokesman. “We thought if we make it into a cultural space where people can casually stop by without an entrance fee, more people and foreigners would want to come.”

The bookstore on the third and fourth floors will offer around 800 titles. Every quarter, local publishing house Munhak Dongnae will curate a new selection.

BY SONG KYOUNG-SON [song.kyoungson@joongang.co.kr]
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