Business Person of the Month: Inga Kim

EBRPL Business Person

inga kimInga Kim

Owner, Inga’s Subs and Sandwiches

254 West Chimes Street
Baton Rouge, LA
(225) 344-4861

“Customers come first, no matter how big or small.”

Inga Kim owns and operates Inga’s Subs and Salads.  Conveniently located on the edge of the LSU campus at 254 West Chimes Street, the shop caters mostly to students and has been voted Best Sandwich by the Student Media Association. “Campus advertising is by word of mouth,” she says.  Now that some of the campus is closed to automobiles during the day as part of LSU’s push to become a pedestrian friendly campus, Kim reports she is getting more professors since they have to walk to lunch.  Inga’s features sandwich trays for parties, events and tailgating and takeout orders by phone or fax.  She stresses quality control; everything is always fresh in the restaurant.  One of their specialties is warm potato salad, which is not available all day since it only keeps for four hours. 

When she was in her early twenties, Kim, her parents and two brothers came to this country from South Korea.  “My father worked in the housing department for the US Army and from that experience he decided to have our family immigrate for the business and financial opportunities in this country and for his children’s future.”  With her aunt sponsoring them, the family settled first in Boston and found it not too different from Seoul, a big city with a similar climate.  But living expenses were too high there.  Her father had friends in Louisiana who encouraged them to move south. They also tried Houston, before eventually settling in Baton Rouge.

When asked how she felt about uprooting herself and leaving all her friends in Korea, Kim says, “I didn’t have a choice. My father said go and I went.”  Her sister was already in the U.S.  Her mother, who was born in North Korea and educated in Japan through college, had never considered South Korea her home.  Kim and her father eventually became U. S. citizens, but her mother never did.  Though she had taken six years of English in school, Kim was very shy back then, but she met people at her work places and found most Americans friendly and welcoming. She has taken business and accounting courses to support her business/career.  “I attended LSU for three semesters but never finished.” 

Kim got her start in sandwich shops when her father opened a Blimpie’s sandwich shop in 1984.  “The family needed an income and the restaurant business was the easiest to get into.”  She says they never considered starting a Korean restaurant (there are still none in town.)  “The Blimpie Franchise was a business opportunity and we took it.” In 1994 when the company changed the rules for the restaurant chain, her father retired and moved to Seattle.  “Inga’s came about when Blimpies’s tried to expand in BR. They wanted us to change the menu, and I knew my customers wouldn’t put up with that.” The old Blimpie’s was torn down, and when the new building was finished, it opened as Inga’s. The location has changed three times since its inception, but has always been near the LSU campus. 

One of Kim’s chief goals is to keep the prices affordable for students, her main clientele.  She tries to do cost cutting research, checking other shops’ prices, but this can be difficult and time consuming. “Corporate and Franchise restaurants can control prices since they buy in bulk, which makes it hard for small businesses to compete.”   The business is doing well enough that a second location at 1750 Brightside Lane is now open.  Inga’s is open from 10:30 AM to 10:00 PM Monday through Saturday, but she is really on call for the shop 24/7.  “It’s the nature of the business,” Kim says.  She employs fifteen people.  “We do have some good managers now, but I still work lunch at the Chimes Street location.”

Kim sees herself as an away-from-home mom to the students who frequent her shop as well as those she employs.  In her 24 years in business she has interacted with a lot of students.  One of her responsibilities in managing the shop is teaching the students who work for her a basic work ethic–they are expected to come to work on time and do the best they can. She tells them to make sure the customers get the service they deserve.  She likes mentoring the students. 

Her two sons, one a recent graduate from LSU and the other a sophomore there, have worked in the shop as they’ve grown up. “It was manageable to do the shop as a working mother; my mother was their babysitter when they were little.”  Her oldest son graduated in political science and is now a soccer coach for BR Soccer Association and the Baton Rouge Capitals, our minor league soccer team. The youngest is in mechanical engineering. “And yes, they still help out when I need them or when they need extra money.”

Kim would like to see the new governor take Baton Rouge and Louisiana to the next level educationally, both at the college level and in vocational training   “People need jobs and training particularly in basic job skills and work ethics.”   She would like to see libraries used as they should be. “Too many of the students I meet think they have to buy books instead of using the library, which is a free service for the public.” Currently learning to knit, Kim is interested in the many knitting books the library has in its collection. 

She likes Baton Rouge, particularly the weather, and has thought about retiring here.  But she misses the mountains.  “There are mountains in Korea and public transportation to take you there.”  Kim’s favorite place to vacation is Oregon.  She and her husband (he came into the shop for a sandwich and ended up with a wife) enjoy backpacking in the mountains there.

Besides her work and family responsibilities, Kim has worked with the CASA program for the last three years and is an active member of the Northgate Merchants Association, which she helped form with other retailers there.  The North Gate area of LSU, also known as Tigertown, is the historic shopping and entertainment district right off campus, popular with generations of LSU students, faculty, staff, and fans, according to the association’s website-

“The North Gate Merchants Association is committed to improving the business, residential, and social climate of the North Gates area of LSU. Our goal is to enhance the aesthetic qualities and the accessibility of the neighborhood, while preserving its diverse and historic character. We also strive to strengthen all links to LSU and nearby communities, in order to better attract university students, faculty, and staff, as well as others throughout Baton Rouge who enjoy spending time on or near the LSU campus.”

Inga Kim’s story is a uniquely American one.  No longer that shy young immigrant, Kim has grown into a confident businesswoman.  She considers herself a people person –“I like people and they seem to like me.”  The success of Inga’s Subs & Salads is rooted in her strong work ethic, her entrepreneurial spirit and her credo of excellence in customer service. A true American success story, she’s made at good living at a job she loves, sent her kids through college and impacted the lives of many young people through her business and her volunteer work with CASA. 

Business Person of the Month Archive

Holiday Food Safety

EBRPL Business Tip

Holiday Food Safety

Its December 1st, your boss has given you the task of organizing the food for the office party; here are some helpful links on the subject of food safety during the holidays.

The United States Department of Agriculture has several food safety fact sheets available on the Internet. Topics include cooking for groups, turkey basics, and safe handling of take out foods.

The Wisconsin Department of Health and Family Services list of Holiday Food Safety Tips has helpful guidelines on avoiding those holiday foodborne illnesses.

Business Person of the Month: Chris DeJohn

EBRPL Business Person

Chris DeJohn

Owner, Be Bop Music Shop

560 Government St.
Baton Rouge, LA 70806
(225) 343-7433

Chris DeJohn

“If you took that lick and sped it up, you would have two licks.”
    — Tabby Thomas

“Be ready to fold those kings if an ace hits the table”
    — Unknown

BeBop Music Shop is dedicated to serving all musicians in the Baton Rouge area, from the beginner to the professional. The store specializes in new and used drumsets, hand percussion, and cymbals plus all the parts and accessories (sticks, heads, hardware, etc…) as well as a great selection of new and used electric and acoustic guitars, basses, amps, cables, strings, cases, and accessories. They offer bass and guitar lessons and can refer the budding musician for lessons on other instruments.

Professional drummer Chris DeJohn has been the owner since 2001 when he bought BeBop from the previous owners, Mike Armshaw and Doug Johnson, who had opened the shop in 1981. When they decided to close the store, DeJohn took out a loan and bought the store where he had been working as a sales assistant since 1997. Long a hang-out for a lot of local musicians, BeBop is “the hippest drum/guitar combo shop in Baton Rouge. We carry local CDs, have a bulletin board for networking musicians, and let them post flyers for upcoming gigs.”

DeJohn says he’s been around music most of his life. His uncle, who lived across the street when he was growing up, had a set of drums which he would go over and play. He seemed to have a knack for drumming, so his parents bought him his first set of drums when he was ten. Though he took private lessons from Joey Ferris throughout his years at Brother Martin High School in New Orleans, he never played in the school band (“didn’t want to march.”)

He categorizes his family as “reluctantly-supportive. I don’t think they really thought I’d pursue it as a career.” DeJohn attended LSU for one year before dropping out to go on the road with the band Hoppergrass, which later was renamed Juice and became the house band at Tipitina’s. He can understand his parents’ trepidation, because it’s very hard to make a living playing music, especially just starting out. He had to keep some sort of day job to supplement his income. He worked in various kitchens like The Chimes and George’s before he came to work for BeBop. Working in a music store was ideal and owning one was even better.

Chris DeJohn bills himself as a Drummer/Percussionist specializing in Second Line, Funk, Jazz, Latin, Rock, Soul, Country, Rockabilly, Surf, Western Swing, & Blues. He likes to play congas and other “hand drums” and can play a little bit of guitar and bass. “I feel like these other instruments really improve my facility on the drumset and my ear.” As for drummers who may have influenced him, he cites the greats like Buddy Rich, Max Roach, John Bonham of Led Zeppelin, and Neal Peart of Rush as musicians he enjoys hearing. He does confess that he sometimes finds long drum-solos really boring.

Working in music over the past decade, DeJohn has amassed a number of credits. He has performed and/or recorded with–George Porter Jr., Bill Summers, Eric Lindell, James Johnson, Kenny Neal, Rudy Richard, Eric Baskin, Michael Foster, New Orleans Juice, Kerry Rhys, Donald Evans, Andy Pizzo, Ricky Castrillo, Ned Fasullo, Nuevo Hippie Cover Band, The Bromaines, The King James Band, Chicago Al & The Backburners, Billy Kimbrell, Lance Chauvin, The Souls of Blues Revival, All That, Mary’s X, and Simba’s Children. He’s also made television appearances on City Confidential with Righteous Buddha and Louisiana Jukebox with Mary’s X. He’s currently drummer for the bands Righteous Buddha, The Roebucks out of Lafayette and The Black Sound Parade.

When not making music, DeJohn is an avid mountain biker. He likes to ride the Hooper Road and Comite River trails and has traveled to the western part of North Carolina where they have a plethora of bike trails for various levels of expertise. He also enjoys playing poker. “I love Hold ’em but I also enjoy Omaha and Seven Card Stud; mostly cash-games, but I don’t mind the occasional tournament.” With the travel and night life involved in the music world, DeJohn doesn’t have much time to spend in the library. He enjoys a good spy novel, but the last three books he read were trail guides for mountain biking.

DeJohn would like to see Baton Rouge downtown up and thriving with a great night life like Austin, Texas. “I don’t really know why BR isn’t more supportive of live music. When I go to places like Austin; Boulder, Colorado; Athens, Georgia; or Asheville, North Carolina, I notice people out enjoying local, original artists as opposed to here where it seems like everyone (except for a small handful) wants to hear cover bands playing songs they already know.”

Thirty one years old and married for two years now, DeJohn met his wife, who’s a lawyer, in high-school but they didn’t really start dating until college. “Cat is very supportive of my music as long as I’m pulling my weight. I wouldn’t do it for nothing; it really is a job.” They have a diverse group of friends with his “music friends” and her “lawyer friends,” but some are mutual (the leader of one of the bands for which he drums is a local judge.) Poker buddies and mountain bike buddies round out his circle of friends.

The poker quote from the beginning of this profile could be called his personal philosophy. DeJohn is adventurous, daring and willing to take chances, but wants to keep a clear head and know when to cut his losses. Poker metaphors make sense with his life as a professional musician, a career which requires risk-taking and often benefits from a little luck. He’ll be closing BeBop at the end of November, because he’ll be on the road with the Eric Lindell band for all of 2008, touring in support of the album, Change in the Weather on Alligator Records, coming out on January 11th. “Finally playing music is going to be my full-time job. I feel like my career is really moving forward since I got the Eric Lindell gig. No more 9 to 5.” The New Orleans Times Picayune has characterized the band’s music as “stellar, sublime blue-eyed soul and romping New Orleans R&B, played at the same intersection of soul, blues and roots rock as Van Morrison.”

He’s been running the shop alone lately. Though there are quite a number of music shops in town, the competition wasn’t bad until the big box store Guitar Center moved into the market. “How does one compete with such buying power?” He compares it to the effect new Wal-Marts have on local hardware stores. DeJohn is to be commended for keeping alive the BeBop Music Shop, a local tradition which lasted over twenty-five years.

Chris DeJohn “I’m really going to miss this place.” With his drumming career on the upswing, he plans to “form a new LLC (as of yet to be announced) and will be working under that title.” Music is Chris DeJohn’s business whether it’s under the BeBop name or another.

Business Person of the Month Archive

Thompson / Gale Small Business Resource Center

EBRPL Business Tip

What’s new at your library on the subject of small business…?

New to the electronic database collection is the Small Business Resource Center. Gale’s Small Business Resource Center is a one-stop source for info on starting and/or growing your business.

Highlights include

  • Business Plans Handbook Series, with over 300 actual business plans. .
  • A “How To…” section including topics on,
    Writing a business plan
    Financing your business
    Marketing and growing your business
    Buying and selling a business
  • Access to 200 business journals

Using Small Business Resource Center is easy; for example, you have an idea to open a music store. From the site’s opening page, you can select Business Type, find music stores, click on that subject and see business plans, and full text articles about opening a music business.

Small Business Resource Center is located on the library’s Online Databases page under the Gale Group collection.

Business Person of the Month: Dr. Anne Odenweller, D.C.

EBRPL Business Person

Dr. Anne Odenweller, D.C.


Odenweller Chiropractic Clinic

13580 Coursey Blvd, Suite A
Baton Rouge, LA
Phone 2225-755-0499
FAX 225-756-8029

Dr Anne Odenweller

“Whatever you can do or think you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.”
    — Goethe

“This above all, to thine own self be true.”
    — William Shakespeare

“Doctors of Chiropractic care are trained to improve the function of the nervous system through the manipulation of joints so that the body can function more productively, and without pain” Jefferson Hennessy wrote in a recent article in Acadiana Profile. This description of the profession is one Dr. Anne Odenweller (known as Dr. Anne to her patients) embraces. She believes motion is life. “I don’t just treat patients, I try to educate them on preventive measures to help them attain and maintain a healthy life.”

Born and raised in Ohio, she had chiropractic care growing up, which sparked her interest in the field. The family’s chiropractor educated them on health care rather than sick care, introducing her mother to information about nutrition and health foods. Dr. Anne was taught chiropractic first, medicine second and surgery last. She finds it rewarding to help people feel better. “So many times people feel immediate relief after an adjustment.”

At a young age Dr. Anne decided on chiropractic as her career choice. She liked being active, working with her hands, making and repairing things, and didn’t think a desk job would suit her temperament. “Chiropractic is sort of a mechanical profession.” She also had another goal in life—to join the Army. Her dad had been in the Army, and she loved looking at books he had which were put out by different battalions during WWII. “I felt it was my duty to serve, to help protect the country and preserve our freedom.” She joined the service after her freshman year at Bluffton University in Bluffton, Ohio and was able to complete a second year of college going part-time and nights to Harford Community College while stationed in Maryland.

She worked as a Medical Corpsman for the first two years of her stint in the Army before being chosen for the AMOSIST Program (Ambulatory Military Outpatient System.) There was a shortage of physicians due to the Viet Nam War, so corpsmen were trained to triage sick call patients, take care of minor illnesses and work under the guidance of the doctors. During her four years of active duty, Dr. Anne worked and trained in several states, but spent most of her time in Maryland assigned to Aberdeen Proving Grounds. She was never deployed out of the country, though she loves to travel and learn about other cultures. She switched her military occupational specialty to helicopter maintenance while in the second year of her two–year Army Reserve obligation.

Dr. Anne’s pre-chiropractic study, with its emphasis on the sciences–chemistry, biology and anatomy, had prepared her for entrance into the Texas Chiropractic College in Pasadena, Texas. With the aid of the GI Bill, she finished her four years there and earned her Doctor of Chiropractic degree. Her postgraduate studies include Chiropractic Orthopedics, Sports Injuries, Chiropractic Rehabilitation and Animal Chiropractic. “I’ve always loved seminars.” She’s had continuing education courses in nutrition, whip-lash injury and adjusting techniques for the extremities.

After she graduated, Dr. Anne did temp work in various chiropractic offices in several states and had to pass the state boards to be licensed in each one. Although there is no national license in the field, chiropractors are required to take the National Board Exams before graduating. She was encouraged by a friend from Texas Chiropractic College who was practicing in New Orleans to take the state boards to practice in this state. Louisiana was the last state in the union to license chiropractors, and the profession has been firmly established here for many years now.

She visited Baton Rouge in the early eighties and settled here because “it appeared clean and green and seemed like a nice place to live.” After working four or five years for a clinic, she opened her private practice. Dr. Anne feels Baton Rouge is growing nicely and hopes future growth and development is being carefully planned. She is concerned about building in what appear to be flood plains. Believing we should be stewards of our environment and protect animals, she thinks we should preserve habitat, rather than eliminating open spaces. “I’d like our city to be aware, open and tolerant, and I’d like to see more places that are animal friendly, as in other cities and countries.”

When she is away from the office, she enjoys gardening, woodworking, travel, astronomy, studying chiropractic, and caring for animals. She has dogs, cats and a horse. When she has time she likes to read science, history, gardening and nature articles and books as well as do-it-yourself books. Visiting the library at least once a week was one of her main activities growing up. “I got lost in the world of books.” Dr Anne loves how books can transport you to other places and help you use your imagination. Whenever she has traveled, she’s used libraries in the places she’s gone. She especially enjoys visiting medical libraries. “Everyone has something to say and writing a book is a good way to do that.”

Besides the favorite quotes listed at the beginning of this profile, Dr. Anne also likes this one by St. Francis of Assissi–“Start by doing what is necessary, then do what is possible, and suddenly you are doing the impossible.” It pretty much sums up her philosophy of life. She likes to stay busy and feels that goals are important. From this profile one can see that the things she loves include helping people feel better, animals, books, travel, astronomy, and learning new things. Dr. Anne agrees with the old saying, “the things you love, you can’t get in catalogs.”

Business Person of the Month Archive