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Yama makes plans to rebrand

Three years ago, Hoo Gon Lee bought the Japanese restaurant in downtown LaGrange, Yama.  

Lee said ever since he has taken over the establishment he has tried to make it a place where families and friends would want to come eat. 

After driving around one day and seeing so many hibachi restaurants in LaGrange, Lee said he is going to transform Yama into a Korean barbecue restaurant. 

“There are a lot of hibachi places in town,” Lee said. 

“But there is not enough Korean barbecue spots.” 

Yama will still serve its sushi, but will bring an entire new Korean barbecue menu to the tables. 

Like most Korean barbecue restaurants, the center of your table will have a grilling tablet.  After you order your meat, Yama will turn on the fire, place the meat on the grill and leave it there. Then it’s up to you to cook it. 

“We will change it and have it ready by hopefully January,” Lee said. “We don’t have the hood or all the supplies yet but will do a complete rebrand by then.” 

Courtyard Marriot General Manager Sandy Lee, who is working as a liaison for Yama, said this will give locals a spot in downtown to have a fun date night, family night and dinner. 

“At some restaurants, you share a table with other strangers, but here it’ll just be you and your party,” Sandy said. “It’ll be a fun experience to have with your friends because you’re cooking it all right in front of you.”

Lee said since acquiring the business, he has made a complete staff change and wants eager, hard-working servers to work with him. 

Sandy Lee noted that before Hoo Gon bought Yama, the previous reputation wasn’t that good. 

“We hope that this rebrand will drive more people in the doors,” Sandy said. “The sushi is always high quality and tastes fresh. I know the Korean barbecue will be just as great.” 

Hoo Gon also owns a Korean barbecue restaurant in Duluth, with his wife that he plans to bring some of the popular menu items to the LaGrange location. 

He said he hopes to see more locals come enjoy his authentic cuisine come January but until then patrons can still enjoy the hibachi menu.