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A Year and a Half After Opening, Ballard’s WeRo Is Closing Permanently

Wes Yoo’s Korean restaurant couldn’t make it work

A bowl of chicken wings topped with scallions and sesame seeds.
The chicken wings at WeRo
Wes Yoo
Harry Cheadle is the editor of Eater Seattle.

It’s that time of year when many restaurants decide to close their doors for good. On Monday, December 18, JuneBaby announced that it was closing, and just a few hours later Ballard suffered a blow to its dining scene, when Wes Yoo said on Instagram that he was closing his acclaimed Korean restaurant WeRo. Its last day of service will be December 30.

“No words to really describe all of the emotions so I will keep it short,” Yoo wrote. “Thank you. See you again soon.”

Yoo took over the restaurant in 2018, when it was still known as the Gerald and still serving classic gastropub-style food. There was nothing Korean about the menu. That changed with the onset of COVID-19. As Eater Seattle has previously written:

Yoo found himself quarantined at home, distraught and frightened about the future of a business that was just starting to grow. During these first few days of the pandemic, he chose to use his essential grocery store runs to go to H Mart. About a week into quarantine, he realized he’d eaten nothing but Korean food — something he hadn’t done since he left Korea two decades ago.

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Yoo rediscovering his deep-seated love for Korean comfort foods led him to start a weekly Korean food pop-up in April 2020, mainly making larger portions of whatever dish he was excited about that week. As a social justice movement gained momentum in America following the murder of George Floyd in May of that year, Yoo’s desire to connect with his cultural identity grew, and eventually, in September, he turned The Gerald overnight into a Korean restaurant serving tteokkalbi, rice cake skewers, kimchi fried rice, and Korean fried chicken wings, though its name didn’t change.

In March 2022, Yoo officially changed the name to WeRo and since then garnered rave reviews from Eater Seattle and other publications. The wings were sticky and sweet and moreish, the potatoes were marvels of engineering, the cocktail menu was impressively wide-ranging.

Yoo continued to expand what WeRo offered, creating a prix fixe menu and launching a rice bowl lunch-only restaurant called Bapshim that earned an Eater Seattle Award for Best New Takeout. He planned to start selling Korean pantry and retail goods out of Bapshim soon, but instead is closing altogether.

He didn’t spell out the reasons for WeRo’s closure in the Instagram post, but has made no secret of the fact that like many restaurant owners has had trouble making the financial math add up. The food was excellent, but that wasn’t enough.

“I look forward to finding different ways in the near future to highlight and support Korean food culture, local farmers, and local restaurants,” Yoo told Eater Seattle in an email. “I implore everyone to support the plethora of great restaurants we have. I am thankful for the support I’ve received during this chapter.”