Shop Owners 'Make the Dream'
Han and Deborah Kim go from newlyweds, to new parents, to new business owners.
In the course of two years, Han and Deborah Kim wed, had their first child and embarked on the journey of opening their own business — all before the age of 30. Later this spring, they hope to open their shop, Macaron Bee, at 1669 Wisconsin Ave., where will sell macarons, confectioneries made of sweet meringue.
Han, 25, is originally from Korea and Deborah, 28, is originally from Indonesia. The two met at the Culinary Institute of America in New York and moved to the D.C. area about a year and a half ago.
Right around the time that Deborah became pregnant, the two decided to "take the risk and make the dream," she explained about opening their own business.
Despite concerns from their parents about not having enough experience — it's only been three years since culinary school — Han said the two felt that this was the right moment.
"We have been thinking about this for a long time, actually. And we think, 'if not now, when?'" Deborah added.
And while the baby and all the work going into opening a new business has made their lives "pretty hectic," the Kims were beaming with excitement as they talked about their work and what they hope for their business in Georgetown.
"We have been thinking about this for a long time, actually. And we think, 'if not now, when?'" Deborah said.
They looked throughout D.C. for a space — from Chinatown to Foggy Bottom — to find a small, relatively affordable space.
"We wanted to stay in the Georgetown area. It matched the look of our store," Han explained. Though the couple now lives in Ashburn, Va., they used to live just north of Georgetown on Wisconsin Avenue.
"That's how we fell in love with Georgetown," said Deborah.
So they decided on the tiny shop at 1669 Wisconsin Ave.
The Macaron Bee had its Georgetown debutante moment at a January Advisory Neighborhood Commission meeting when the owners' initial concept of serving the colorful treats out a folding front window brought on a 40-minute debate. Several neighbors worried that a line of eager macaron purchasers would create noise and obstruct access to nearby properties. Others raised concerns about altering the historic character of the street with such a concept.
Though the Kims secured concept approval for the design featuring front window service, a second review at the Old Georgetown Board added so many limitations to the plan, that Han said they ultimately decided not to sell from the window. Deborah added that they also wanted to respect their new neighbors.
The plan now is to have a macaron tree in the front window to draw people in from the street. The small space will be no more than 200 square feet and will offer no seating; just a long display case, brimming with colorful hand-made macarons.
They have 14 or 15 flavors planned and will make them in a kitchen off-site. A few of their favorite flavors are milk chocolate passion fruit and dark chocolate ganache.
The Kims are already learning the important balancing games of Georgetown: creativity must balance with historic requirements, new businesses should respect established businesses and economic survival is a requires appealing to residents and students.
"We are hoping that residents will love the macarons, ... the students also," said Deborah.
A final question for the Kims, what's in the name?
"We are like a bee. Always busy," Deborah said with a laugh.
You can find more articles from this ongoing series, “Dispatches: The Changing American Dream” from across the country at The Huffington Post.