Meet James Lim, lifelong Seattleite, Sounders FC super fan, and owner of Watson’s Counter in Seattle’s Ballard neighborhood. James opened his Korean fusion cafe in 2019 and named it after his dog, Watson. In addition to selling specialty coffee drinks, Watson’s Counter offers fun Korean-inspired dishes like their KBBQ pork plate and fried chicken sandwich with pickled daikon kimchi as well as equally fun brunch items, like their signature Cereal French Toast encrusted in your choice of Fruity Pebbles or Frosted Flakes.
Get to know more about James and Watson’s Counter in this Business Spotlight Q&A.
The interview has been edited for length and clarity.
What’s your favorite part about the neighborhood/community your business is in and why?
My favorite thing about Ballard is that it’s very insular so people tend to focus on what’s nearby. I think a lot of people who live in the neighborhood appreciate the neighborhood because it’s definitely one of the more historic neighborhoods in Seattle and people appreciate the history and appreciate every corner. There’s a lot of people who are very involved in the neighborhood itself. Even though new things are coming up all the time and there’s new constructions, there’s still a good amount of effort for preservation and at least acknowledging the history of the area. I think acknowledging and respecting this history of Ballard is a huge thing and I think it’s cool that people are into that. And to become another ‘thing’ that may come and go, and it’s okay if we depart sooner than we’d like but being able to be a part of that neighborhood is really cool.
Why is it important to you and your business that people #SpendLikeItMatters?
It’s important to me, not even just for my business, but to keep our local economy strong. Especially with disenfranchised groups like the BIPOC community and the LGBTQ community. Even in a very white neighborhood, Ballard, there’s a lot of support for these businesses, already, not necessarily intentionally. But I think smaller businesses and smaller players like myself don’t have as big of a voice, and there’s a lot of people who have much smaller voices than I do.
Who is on your InTENtional List right now?
We frequent a Mexican restaurant right here called Tacos and Beer. They’re probably one of the best Mexican restaurants in this area. My partner and I have been dying to go to Musang, but they’re closed on my only day off from work. So, we’re gonna have to really truck for that one. I’m trying to support a lot more Korean restaurants. There’s a lot of Korean restaurants where the owners don’t really speak English and especially during the pandemic where we’re more reliant on technology than ever, for people where English is a second language, I find it even more important to support them. Because nobody at this point is stumbling onto restaurants, everything is very intentional on where you’re going. So, we’ve also been trying to support – the bigger ones are doing okay – so we’re trying to support a lot of these smaller ones, that’s a huge one. When I see a Korean-owned restaurant, I just think of my parents, they look like my parents, they talk like my parents, and when I speak Korean with them it brings back a different feeling, you know?