Descent of the Demon Master - Chapter 285
“…The responses were better than expected, actually,” said Ju Yeong-Gi.
“Really?” Kang Jin-Ho cocked an eyebrow.
“Yeah. Miss Choi was right on the money. Our revenue has gone up a lot.”
“By how much?”
“Mm, about double? Around there?”
Kang Jin-Ho started pouting a little. Earning a higher revenue was certainly good news, but hearing about his pizza’s popularity falling wasn’t so great for his pride.
Park Yu-Min provided a further explanation, “We’re still selling at least one pizza per table. That hasn’t changed, but now that pasta and drinks are added on top, we’re making a lot more than when selling just one pizza.”
Kang Jin-Ho frowned even more. “I… That sounds about right.”
Now that he thought about it, no matter how one loved pizzas, they wouldn’t likely order more than one pizza per head. Adding side dishes would obviously increase the store’s revenue. Even he could see that.
He did worry that the table turnaround time would get longer if each customer ordered more food, but thankfully, such a thing hadn’t happened yet.
Kang Jin-Ho rubbed his chin. “How are the new pasta dishes received?”
“Well, they are popular, alright. And the feedback we got is positive, too.”
“Hmm…” Kang Jin-Ho slowly turned his head to look at Jeong Su-Yeon.
She was staring into the distance without saying anything. Despite her unruffled attitude, even a blind could tell what her real feelings were from her slightly quivering shoulders and that triumphant expression visible even from the side of her face!
“Good work, Miss Jeong,” said Kang Jin-Ho after getting a premonition that he would meet with a big misfortune if he didn’t compliment her now.
“Thank you,” Jeong Su-Yeon replied with a cool smirk.
“Listen, Jin-Ho. The way things were, I think we don’t need to sell pizzas anymore and just stick to pasta dishes from now. Customers were telling me about how much better our pasta is compared to our pizzas,” said Ju Yeong-Gi.
However, Park Yu-Min countered with a deep scowl. “That’s because you were the one baking the pizzas, Yeong-Gi!”
“…Hey, you. Are you done?”
Park Yu-Min turned to address Kang Jin-Ho in a grave voice. “Jin-Ho, stop leaving the store unattended, will you? The pizzas Yeong-Gi makes are waaay too different from the ones you make, you know? People were asking me if we used expired ingredients!”
Jeong Su-Yeon enthusiastically agreed. “Yes! It got so bad that even I had to bake pizzas at one point! It was getting really unacceptable, you know!”
A wounded-looking Ju Yeong-Gi trudged to the corner of the store and hurdled on the floor while hugging his knees. He was supposed to be a man, but his tear ducts still wanted to act up after he got abused for something so insignificant as baking rubbish pizzas!
Jeong Su-Yeon got closer to Kang Jin-Ho. “But no matter how hard I try to follow the recipe, I can’t replicate your taste, Mister Owner! When you have free time later, please teach me how to bake pizzas.”
“I’ll try,” Kang Jin-Ho replied with a cramped smile because he knew that Jeong Su-Yeon would never be able to learn.
No normal person could bake pizzas like Kang Jin-Ho. The crucial point in his baking process wasn’t utilizing the oven properly but baking the pizza’s inner layer instantly through the application of the Intense Yang Energy technique. Even a martial artist below a certain realm would find it hard to replicate this act.
‘…Should I mobilize a couple of martial artists, then?’
Since he was already involved with the Martial Assembly, it might not be such a bad idea to bring a suitable ‘Martial’ or two here and ask them to bake pizzas. Sure, martial artists were known for their sky-high pride, but someone among them had to be willing to bake pizzas for fun.
Kang Jin-Ho looked back at Park Yu-Min. “In that case, what was yesterday’s revenue?”
“It’s about the same as when you’re around, Jin-Ho. Considering that we’d normally get a quarter of that whenever you’re absent from the store, it’s one heck of a jump.”
“Hmm…” Kang Jin-Ho contemplatively nodded. ‘Not bad.’
The difference in revenue between when he was in the store or absent from it was night and day. Coming here more often would have solved that problem, but what would happen after Kang Jin-Ho started attending university again?
If the pizzeria were to keep surviving, it was crucial to have a stable average income stream going whether Kang Jin-Ho was here or not. If they were to rely solely on pizzas, they wouldn’t achieve that goal.
“By resolving the pizza issue, I guess it’ll be fine to gradually take my hands off the pizzeria.”
“But Jin-Ho, that is literally the biggest problem, isn’t it?”
Regardless of who was left in charge of baking pizzas, they had to replicate the taste of Kang Jin-Ho’s pizzas. However, that was easier said than done. Kang Jin-Ho frowned and supported his chin on his hand while deep in thought, only for a nonchalant voice coming from behind to wake him up.
“What are you so worried about?”
“Mm?” Kang Jin-Ho blinked his eyes while staring at Choi Yeon-Ha leisurely walking out of the pizzeria’s staff room. Why was that woman coming out of there?
Kang Jin-Ho turned his head around, searching for an answer to his question. Park Yu-Min helplessly shook his head. “I think her work’s not that hectic these days since she’s here basically all the time.”
Kang Jin-Ho tilted his head. “Miss Choi, don’t you have filming to do?”
Choi Yeon-Ha, suddenly making a stern face of, ‘You dare ask me that?’ started nagging Kang Jin-Ho. “Good thing you asked me about that. I have something important to talk to you about regarding that very topic, so do you have some free time to spare?”
“Actually, we need to open the shop now, so…” Kang Jin-Ho stepped back while staring at her with a wary look.
“…Look here, Mister Kang, Jin, Ho.”
“Who do you think is responsible for improving your revenue?”
“That’s Miss Jeong Su-Yeon, of course,” Kang Jin-Ho replied without hesitation.
Jeong Su-Yeon stood a bit taller, and she held her head a little higher. If it were to get any higher, it could become perpendicular to the ceiling!
Choi Yeon-Ha facepalmed. “…Let me rephrase that. Who was responsible for giving you the idea to hire Miss Jeong? If I hadn’t said anything, you couldn’t have come up with it. Am I wrong?”
Kang Jin-Ho had no choice but to admit that it was true. Without Choi Yeon-Ha’s advice, he or his friends couldn’t have thought about bolstering the store’s menu, and that wouldn’t have led to hiring Jeong Su-Yeon.
Choi Yeon-Ha crossed her arms and cocked an eyebrow. “Haven’t I increased your revenue by at least double the original amount?”
“…Alright, I admit we have you to thank for our success.”
“Before all that, though. Who was responsible for saving your store on the brink of bankruptcy? If you hadn’t appeared in that TV show, do you really think that this store could have survived, not to mention enjoying success to this extent?”
Obviously, the store would have survived, somehow. After all, Kang Jin-Ho wasn’t looking to make money out of this place no matter what. Even so, he couldn’t deny that everyone would have been chasing flies right now if he hadn’t appeared in that TV show.
“Even after everything I’ve done, you still can’t be bothered to spare a few minutes with me? Wow, I had no idea you were such a heartless person, Mister Jin-Ho…!”
“N-no, hang on.” Kang Jin-Ho hurriedly waved his hands. Wasn’t one of his good points being clear on favors and grudges? Since he owed Choi Yeon-Ha a favor, it was only obvious that he would repay her. “I can certainly spare some time.”
“But, Mister Owner, you can’t leave when it’s time to open the store!” Unfortunately for Kang Jin-Ho, a merciless tackle struck him from behind. Jeong Su-Yeon continued speaking while making a less-than-impressed face. “You were not here yesterday, and you want to be absent today, too? If you were like any other ‘regular’ owners, we wouldn’t have missed you too much, but you’re more than that. You’re our chief pizzaiolo, too! The taste of the food is important to any eatery. If you think being absent for a few days won’t be a problem, it’ll prove you wrong by all the customers abandoning your store in no time at all!”
“Mm? It can’t be that bad, surely…?”
“Goodness! A chef shouldn’t say such things, Mister Owner! You might see countless customers coming in and out and don’t think much about them, but it’s not the same story for our ‘guests,’ you know! If they realize the food tastes differently, they won’t come back later to see if things have changed! No, they’ll just go somewhere else. Once customers stop coming like that, your store will have no one to serve sooner or later!”
Kang Jin-Ho started to break out in a bout of cold sweat for some reason while listening to Jeong Su-Yeon’s passionate explanation.
While he was standing there lost and unsure of what to do, Choi Yeon-Ha butted in. “It’s not like you’re going to be gone for the whole day. I’m only borrowing you for a little while anyway, so what could possibly be a problem? Besides, you’re the boss here, aren’t you?”
She was addressing Kang Jin-Ho, but the target of her ‘questions’ was clearly Jeong Su-Yeon.
Unsurprisingly, Jeong Su-Yeon wasn’t going to quietly let that slip past her. “A boss can be absent from his position, yes. But that’s not the same for a head chef.”
Choi Yeon-Ha immediately countered. “Last time I checked, chefs of famous restaurants can leave their posts at any time they want and even appear in TV programs, too. Or are my memories failing me?”
“They can be absent from their restaurants because other chefs can reproduce the taste o their dishes. That’s not the story for us. The difference in taste is just too drastic between when our head chef is here and not, so he can’t just up and leave his post here.”
The two women continued their bitter warfare with sparks shooting out of their eyes. Kang Jin-Ho, stuck in the middle without being able to utter a single word, gradually shrank smaller and smaller.
He sent a pleading look of help to his friends, but… whether it was Park Yu-Min or Ju Yeong-Gi, they all avoided meeting his gaze, which was a clear sign of not wanting to get involved.
‘Don’t you know how much I’ve cared about you two?! To think you’d abandon me like this!’
Kang Jin-Ho shuddered in anger from his friends’ cold betrayal.
‘I’m sorry, Jin-Ho.’
‘We don’t want to die, you know.’
Although the pain of their friend weighed heavily on their hearts, who knew what kind of tragedy would befall the duo if they carelessly threw themselves in the middle of that chaos? Both Park Yu-Min and Ju Yeong-Gi agreed that carelessly offering their opinions would only result in them getting ripped mercilessly apart.
They couldn’t offer the hands of salvation to their friend. Fortunately for them, though, there was no need to grieve over Kang Jin-Ho.
“Orabi~!” Kang Eun-Yeong shoved the door open and stepped inside the pizzeria.
Kang Jin-Ho’s face brightened instantly, and he hurriedly welcomed her. He didn’t care who, as long as they could put an end to this situation! When was the last time he felt so glad to see his little sister again? Probably when he had just gotten discharged from the army?
Kang Jin-Ho shot up to his feet and quickly walked up to his little sister. “Nice timing.”
Kang Eun-Yeong stared weirdly at her brother. “Eh? That’s a weird reaction from you.”
“Normally, when I show up here, the first thing you’d say is, ‘why are you here?’ or ‘what about your filming schedule, Eun-Yeong?’ So, it’s weird to see you so happy about me being here.”
“Mm, well…” Kang Jin-Ho couldn’t immediately respond and tried in vain to find an excuse.
Kang Eun-Yeong craned her neck and looked past him to check out the situation inside the store. Then, she nodded sagely as if she got the picture now. “Oho. Looks like my presence was the lifeline you’ve been looking for. So, I’ll be expecting a Melona or two later tonight, my dear brother.”
“…And you shall have some.” Kang Jin-Ho sighed. His little sis was truly quick-witted, wasn’t she? “In any case, what brings you here today?”
“What do you mean, what? Did you forget what we promised last time?”
“You agreed to speak to my manager, didn’t you?”
“…Did I? When?”
“Stop faking it, will you? I know how scary-sharp your memories are. You could even remember the five hundred won I borrowed from you a year ago, so no freaking way you can’t remember that!”
Kang Jin-Ho frowned. This damned sharp kid…!
When he tried to shuffle away sneakily, Kang Eun-Yeong stuck to him like glue and held onto his arm. “A man never goes back on his word, right?”
“I always go back on my word, though?”
“Ah, really? Then, your thingy will fall off!”
“Don’t say something ominous like that…” Kang Jin-Ho tutted. He couldn’t remember hearing that insult ever since returning to the modern era, but any hot-blooded man would still shudder in dread after getting cursed like that! “Besides all that, what’s the rush? Why did you decide the time without asking me first?”
“What rush are you even talking about? From the get-go, my manager oppa is a heck of a lot busier than you are, orabi. It makes sense from our perspective that we should set up the date.”
“She’s right, you know,” Choi Yeon-Ha quickly butted in as if a chance had presented itself, and she came to Kang Eun-Yeong’s aid. “No manager in the entertainment industry has time to make appointments like that. If they do, they don’t deserve to be called managers. I mean, managers of top stars are so busy they can’t even see the faces of their own mothers regularly, you know?”
“…?” Kang Jin-Ho was seriously tempted to say that both Choi Yeon-Ha and Kang Eun-Yeong seemed too free if that assertion was true, but he wisely refrained from doing so. After all, even he could tell that saying those words would be the same as pouring jet fuel into the roaring fire.
Kang Eun-Yeong energetically cried out, “Let’s go!”
“Yes! And I’ll accompany you, too!” Choi Yeon-Ha quickly walked up to Kang Jin-Ho.
With two women grabbing his arms from both sides, Kang Jin-Ho sorrowfully looked behind him for help. Unfortunately, his friends were smiling brightly and waving their hands at him as Kang Jin-Ho was dragged away.
“Have a nice trip, Jin-Ho.”
“…I’ll speak to both of you when I return.”
“Get us Melonas, too.” Park Yu-Min relaxedly waved his hand, and this sight forced Kang Jin-Ho to wipe the corners of his stinging eyes. Who cared about friends? A man was supposed to live his life alone!
With Kang Jin-Ho and Co. gone, the store suddenly felt empty. Ju Yeong-Gi scanned the interior and muttered in dissatisfaction, “Is it okay to let them go like this? What about the pizzeria?”
“You’re so right!” Jeong Su-Yeon also grumbled unhappily.
However, Park Yu-Min remained unperturbed as he replied with a grin, “Well, the pizzeria is gradually finding its feet, so we shouldn’t try to hold onto him, right? He’s got lots of other things to take care of, after all.”
“Heol…?!” Ju Yeong-Gi shot a scary glare at his friend. “Are you implying that I’ve got nothing better to do?!”
“Oh? Do you have something to do, then?”
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No reply was made to Park Yu-Min’s retort that day.
1. ”Melona” is a popular ice pop sold in South Korea. Its name is derived from its melon taste, but it does come in other flavors, such as strawberry. ☜
2. 500 won is around less than $0.40. ☜