Recognizable by its bright purple exterior, the Dale Street Bistro stands out among its neighborhood surroundings. Born and raised in South Korea, restaurant owner Hui Yon Park moved to the U.S. 30 years ago, where most of her relatives had been living since 1897. Now 31 years old, Park has made a home for herself in Colorado Springs, opening several businesses located throughout the city.
Following in her family’s footsteps, Park learned the art of restaurant management at an early age. In 1989, Park opened a Chinese restaurant called Tao Tao Tiffany’s, her first individual venture. Park later gained ownership of an Italian restaurant and jazz club called Genghis Khan, before finally establishing Dale Street Bistro in 2003.
Dale Street Bistro is purple through and through, from its vibrant exterior, to the walls, chairs, and carpets inside. Park said she chose purple to mimic Victorian style. “I always liked art, and I like the color purple; it’s so pretty,” she said. The small, quaint nature of the bistro lends it an intimate ambiance—an ideal setting for a date or a casual bite. Park said she appreciates its size; it allows her to “pay attention to more things” and direct her energy towards activities such as baking her own bread, which is sold at the restaurant. The Bistro is also home to a beautiful garden, which Park feels she now has the time to “pay attention to.”
Cuisine ranges from mussels and bread pudding to quiche, pizza, soup, and sandwiches. Almost everything on the menu comes from Park’s personal recipes, which she prepares alongside her sister and brother. Park emphasized the positive aspects of running a smaller restaurant: “[It’s] more like a half retired restaurant to me,” she said. She described how her other restaurants would stay open until midnight or so, and she wouldn’t make it home until three or four in the morning as a result. Dale Street Bistro, however, closes at nine in the evening, allowing Park to make it home and rest before another day of work. “I like work,” she said. “I would get lost if I didn’t work.” Park hopes to still be working at age 90, referring to her job as a kind of hobby.
As the owner of the restaurant, Park struggles with the responsibility sometimes. “I cannot be selfish,” she said. “I have to look after everybody first, and then me.” Even so, the people make the responsibility worth it, and “that’s the special part,” she said. She finds joy in watching customers interact with one another, and takes pleasure in getting to know the customers herself. She categorizes her customers into two groups: those who are involved with the neighboring Fine Arts Center, and Colorado College students. “[The CC students] remind me of when I was your age—makes me smile,” said Park. On the other hand, the older patrons from the Fine Arts Center are “like me now,” she added.
Park cultivates a welcoming environment at Dale Street Bistro with her positive approach to work and customers alike. “[It is a] great environment: The host was so nice and really helped us out!” said Richard Riegel, a sophomore at who recently ate at the bistro.
Soph. Griffin Mansi, another Bistro customer, said, “I thought it had a quaint vibe and a bit of an older crowd. It had a quiet, homecooked atmosphere.” To those who have yet to experience the wonders of the Dale Street Bistro, Park highly recommends the vegetable wellington: “Everybody loves it,” she said. She also recommends the bread pudding, which she promises is unlike any other, dressed with a whiskey butter sauce.
The array of purple tones that blanket the bistro, the host of flowers growing in the garden outside, and the eclectic selection of food on the menu all characterize the eccentric and distinct nature of the Dale Street Bistro. Make sure to check it out as the school year comes to a close.