Jae So, co-owner of the Golden Spoon Buffet and Banquet, wants to bring families together for a warm meal where comfort food meets Asian cuisine.
The Golden Spoon resurrects the space that previously housed the Old Country Buffet at 1818 S. 318th Place in Federal Way. The opening is scheduled for mid-April, but the exact date has not yet been announced.
“I decided to bring back a buffet for the community, create jobs for the community, and create a space where they could come and bring their families,” So said. “It’s a family restaurant.”
Inside, gold-plated heat lamps hang above quartz countertops in the 11,000 square foot space. Light renovations, new carpeting and fresh, bright paint have embellished the restaurant, ready to welcome up to 300 guests.
The name of the buffet comes from a Korean tradition celebrating the major milestone of a baby’s 100 days of age. For the celebration, known as Baek-il, family friends often present the baby with a solid gold spoon to symbolize health, well-being and good fortune, he explained.
“That’s where I got my inspiration for the name,” he said. “That’s it: you made the 100th day, now you have a golden spoon to eat.”
The Golden Spoon is ready to accommodate all palates. Diners can enjoy a variety of soups, a salad bar and fresh vegetables, a dessert bar and traditional comfort foods like meatloaf, mashed potatoes and gravy, fried chicken, cut meats and more.
Asian cuisine dishes such as spicy pork belly and marinated chicken barbecue are also on the menu.
“For people who have never tried Asian food, they can get familiar with it,” he said. With over 15 years of experience in the restaurant industry, So also owns two Palace Korean Bar & Grill locations in Federal Way and Bellevue. “I will probably bring some of our recipes and ingredients to incorporate here [at the Golden Spoon].”
A hibachi grill in the restaurant gives diners a front row seat to watch their chef in action.
Plus, the Golden Spoon offers beer and wine (16-ounce beer and 9-ounce wine for $4.50 each). A beverage bay also includes a soda fountain, three-flavor Icee machine, tea and Caffé D’arte coffee.
“It’s a big difference here that I added to the existing footprint,” So said of the liquor options. “I try to accommodate everyone – from kids with Icee to beer drinkers, wine drinkers, coffee drinkers.”
On the west side of the restaurant, a large banquet room with an 86-inch TV and surround sound system is available for parties, meetings and other bookings.
So grew up in Federal Way, then attended the University of Washington and Seattle University School of Law. He is also a member of the Federal Way City Planning Commission.
“It’s a good experience to see what the city is going through and I try to provide feedback to the city from the perspective of a small business owner,” he said, noting conversations on the zoning, police enforcement and crime reduction near businesses. “Trying to put my five cents in.”
So says he wants to give back to the community through public service and hopes to potentially expand his career as a city leader in the years to come.
“Reviving a dead restaurant will eliminate homelessness and bring in taxpayer money for the city, so I think it was just a win-win situation for everyone,” he said.
The Golden Spoon will offer dinner service for the first month, then expand to add lunch service as well.