Inspired by the flavors and culture of Northern China, Kyo Koo, head chef of Danwei Canting, fills a unique niche in Portland’s restaurant scene. For the past three years, Koo has provided a contemporary take on traditional Chinese cooking, allowing Portlanders to savor the flavors and nostalgia of Beijing.
With most of their revenue coming from dine-in service, Koo says the pandemic has heavily impacted the restaurant’s business model.
“The lockdown was a complete 180. We went takeout and delivery only,” Koo said. “Sales fell immediately and there were a few weeks of uncertainty surrounding our future.”
One of Danwei Canting’s biggest challenges has been finding ways to support their front-of-house staff, who make a living off tips. Koo explained that with the SPUR credits covering utility costs, the restaurant will be able to adapt to changing expenses as a result of COVID-19 restrictions.
“Packaging costs have become a much larger part of our budget with the shift from dine-in to mostly takeout and delivery” said Koo. “The extra funds from the utility credit will allow us to increase tip share, boost morale, and overall support a really great group of employees.”
Most recently, Koo competed in the Food Network’s Chopped Challenge and won, becoming a Chopped Champion. The episode is available on Danwei Canting’s website, where Chef Koo takes on Loco Moco, a Hawaiian comfort food in the appetizer round, pom pom mushrooms in the entree round, and an unusual coffee and crunchy cake in the final dessert round.
Danwei Canting is one of more than 500 small businesses that received one-time credits through the Small Business Program for Utility Relief (SPUR).