In 2016, on a drunken night at a dorm in Binghamton, founder Sung Kim created Chick N Bap. He and a few friends were lounging around after a night on the town and found themselves craving New York City Korean street food.
It all started when Kim was a first-year business student at Binghamton. He is from Queens, and knew that many people loved the street food. Some fourth-year students would buy the street food and sell it to first-years on campus. He said that while drunk, it’s very easy to find yourself craving the chicken, rice and sauce dish.
The next day he went to the store and bought the ingredients he would need to make the food himself for his friends. After some time, his friends started paying him to make the food for them. This is when he realized that his passion for food and drink may be profitable.
He then turned to social media to send out messages to as many people as possible listing a time and place. He would take his food to a certain location and sell it to people. Kim said that it was super illegal, but he was thrilled that people liked the food. He said it’s easier to ask for forgiveness than permission. Everyone was concerned, though, because Kim was close to graduating and there was no one to continue it.
When the school president came to one of Kim’s classes to speak, Kim decided that he was going to pitch his business as a dining option. He told the president about his food idea, and he responded within an hour and passed him on to Sodexo.
Many people doubted that Kim’s idea was good, but Kim secretly already knew that students loved it because he had been selling it for a while. They gave him a chance to sell the food on campus Friday and Saturday nights as a trial run, and predicted 20-30 total sales. Kim predicted 300 sales. The first weekend Kim made 550 sales, and his numbers climbed every weekend. The following semester he was selling 1800-2000 a weekend.
Kim’s business partner was a customer at first. They became friends and over time decided to partner up to continue the business. His business partner was still a full-time student and Kim was working multiple jobs at a time to save money. In May of 2016, Kim was asked if he wanted to open his own restaurant on campus. He put in his two weeks notice at his jobs and within the first or second year the business stabilized and was consistently doing well.
Kim decided expanding was the next move for the business, and he pitched to many different universities. To his surprise, he got SUNY New Paltz on board. He still hopes to expand further and get other colleges involved.
“I missed the city food, and a lot of kids are from the city at these schools,” Kim said. “Just know that it’s like city food, but cleaner and more diverse. Almost everything is made in house, and it’s made by your friends.”