John Yon owner of Sunberry Restaurant and Bar
Pratt Street Originals: John Yon and Sunberry Cafe
Aug 16, 2022

Pratt Street has been home to many merchants, restaurants, and businesses for over a century. Today, we’re proud to highlight a business that’s been part of our community for over ten years. Sunberry Restaurant and Bar (formerly known as Sunberry Cafe) is a family-owned and operated restaurant that serves authentic Korean food.

John Yon owner of Sunberry Restaurant and Bar
Owner and head chef John Yon. Image from Joshua Eskridge


The Story Behind Sunberry Restaurant and Bar

Sunberry’s story starts with John, the restaurant’s owner, and founder. John discovered his passion for food at a young age by watching his mother cook. By nine, he began experimenting in the kitchen and grew up cooking for his friends and family. He says “food is my heart” and truly enjoys cooking and eating delicious cuisine. John has always thought that when you cook, you have to cook with the mindset that you’re cooking for a family—everything needs to be intentional and done with care.

When John came to the United States from Korea in 1998, he worked in the deli at the World Trade Center. After 9/11, he lost his job and set out to open his own restaurant. While speaking English was difficult for him at the time, John found it easy to communicate with others through his cooking. Fast forward to 2012, John and his family found themselves in Connecticut and stumbled upon 65 Pratt Street. It took them about a year to build and open Sunberry Cafe; the rest is history. 

We’ve had the pleasure of watching Sunberry grow over the last ten years and could not be more excited to see what the future holds for this family and business. So today, we’re taking you with us as we chat with Jane, the manager of Sunberry and daughter of John.

Q: Tell us about Sunberry Cafe. What was the idea behind the restaurant, and what inspired your family to open up the restaurant?

A: “We have been on Pratt Street for ten years. When we first opened, we wanted to bring authentic Asian cuisine—specifically Korean-inspired flavors—to the Downtown Hartford area. We are Korean and we love the versatility of Korean cuisine. We wanted to expose our customer base to the deliciousness.”

Q: Why Pratt Street? Out of all the places you could have opened up, what drew you to Downtown Hartford?

A: “Pratt Street is historic in so many ways—it was the perfect place for us. The roads are paved with customized bricks, which tells the story of all of Hartford’s residents and supporters. It is warm and inviting and a great area to tell our story as well.”

Q: We know John’s story is very inspiring. When he looks back at his journey, growth, and successes, what has he learned? What has he enjoyed so far?

A: “He enjoys being involved with Hartford and that he can connect with his customers through his unique culinary skills. He’s enjoyed watching Pratt Street transform over the last 10 years, and that he was a part of this transformation.”

Q: How has the pandemic affected your business over the last few years? What are you looking forward to in the future?

A: “The pandemic was a difficult period for all restaurants. It is still a reality we are not over with, but we’re rebuilding slowly. People are more comfortable going out now than at the start of the pandemic, which has increased our optimism to grow the business. We are looking forward to renovating our restaurant and presenting our restaurant in a different light.”

Q: That’sexciting! What are your plans for the renovation?

A: “Currently, we’re planning on redoing the interior to a high-end style. Our inspiration is an Asian-style theme forest. Everything will change, from the seating to the decor. We’re making small changes over time and expect to be done early 2023.”

Q: Your menu is pretty extensive. Can you recommend a few of your favorites for our readers?

A: “I would always recommend the Soy Garlic Fried Chicken, the Spicy Pork Bimbibap, and the Tonkotsu Ramen.”

Q: What is your favorite part about being part of the Pratt Street community?

A: “The community itself always has great energy! Pratt Street hosts events year-round that really showcase what an amazing city Hartford is.” 

Food Made With Passion

Sunberry’s menu is extensive—they serve breakfast and deli food, but their specialty and sweet spot is Korean-inspired cuisine. If you’ve been to Pratt Street, you know everyone raves about Sunberry’s Korean Fried Chicken. But, if you haven’t, this is your sign to try it out!

There are a variety of appetizers on the menu ranging from miso soup to Pajeon (Korean pancakes). The Korean Fried Chicken comes in sweet soy garlic sauce, hot sauce, or signature plain and crispy. The rest of the menu consists of ramen, udon soup, Korean grilled BBQ, Bimbipap, wraps, and burgers.

Be sure to stop by for happy hour Monday through Friday from 4:00 pm–6:00 pm for refreshing mojitos and sake. Sunberry is open Monday through Saturday from 11:00 am–8:00 pm. You can view the menu here and meet us on the Pratt Street patio!

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