“Our flavors can coexist”: Honey Day owner Linda Yoo talks fusion, food, and faith


Yoo and family at Honey Day’s grand opening. Honey Day is located on Rock Road in Glen Rock.

by Yethmie Goonatilleke and Cadia Warner

Shortly after moving to Glen Rock in 2021, Linda Yoo found herself sitting in front of a vacant building space one day, peacefully sipping on a drink from Starbucks while pondering her current lifestyle. At that point in her life, Yoo possessed a background with extensive experience in hospitality and retail, having worked in numerous restaurants and businesses. Yet, she never fulfilled her underlying dream of owning her own café that embodies her identity and creativity. That day, Yoo prayed for a spark that would ignite her passion project into existence.

As of December 2022, that dream has launched into reality. Yoo is now the owner of Honey Day, a newly opened café in Glen Rock that serves a variety of innovative and trendy Korean-American fusion recipes.

The concept of Honey Day is a direct reflection of Yoo’s cultural identity and background. Born in Hershey, Pennsylvania, Yoo grew up in a household with mixed traditions — Yoo’s mother is Korean while her stepfather is American. While many children of mixed heritages tend to feel confused in their identities, Yoo takes full ownership of her intersecting backgrounds, embracing what it means to be Korean-American specifically.

“I always knew that this restaurant would have to pay homage to the fact that I grew up in a home with duality,” said Yoo.

Honey Day’s menu features a plethora of creative dishes, with most of them combining classic American food with Korean cuisine. For instance, one popular menu item is the K-Chicken and Waffles, a dish that combines the classic concept of chicken and waffles with crispy mochi waffles and Korean fried chicken. The more “traditional” plates, such as the crispy ddukbokki, are actually some of Honey Day’s best sellers. Their menu is boundless, including toasts, sandwiches, salads, and drinks — all approachable items elevated with subtle twists. “Our flavors can coexist,” said Yoo. Evident by the menu and concept, Honey Day is effectively a nod to Yoo’s upbringing.

Yoo’s journey to becoming owner of Honey Day wasn’t exactly a clear-cut process—she faced multiple trials and tribulations on her path to fulfill this dream. While attending Penn State, Yoo worked in the retail industry with jobs at Hershey Park and outlet stores in Hershey. Soon after, she got her first job in the restaurant industry as a server in a local Korean restaurant. Yoo’s affinity for hospitality and the restaurant business was clear; in fact, she often went to work more than class. Time passed by and Yoo took on new jobs and activities, such as serving at her local church and working as a concierge in the city. Ultimately, she became the owner of JP’s Bagel Express, a bagel shop in Hoboken, and this work consumed much of her time. These experiences forced Yoo to put the café of her dreams on the backburner. Following many years of hard work and genuine learning, Yoo finally was able to open her own café.

While achieving her dream was something to celebrate, there was definitely a learning curve to becoming an owner and operator. One of the most valuable lessons Yoo has learned is the power of outsourcing and being a delegator. Once Yoo realized that she didn’t have to be responsible for every duty in the creation of Honey Day, she managed to reach a healthy work-life balance while learning from young, talented professionals.

“It is the best thing to surround yourself with people who are smarter than you. You don’t have to know everything—I don’t have to know how to create a brand and market it. There are amazing people in my sphere of influence that can help me build those areas for my business to thrive,” Yoo said.

Among her talented team, Yoo cites designer Jean Pyo of Feels Studio and the architectural firm AIS as tremendous sources of help. Yoo also engaged in this learning process by putting in hard work and dedication herself; she spent a lot of time listening to business podcasts and gathering information from resources, ultimately creating a business plan which was one of the most difficult parts of this experience for her.

Something that has evidently driven Yoo throughout this process, as well as her entire life, is her faith and religious background. Prayer and happenstance were two very common occurrences when it came to the opening of Honey Day. Yoo recalled meeting members of her team through mutual friends and new hires through complete coincidence. Church opened a lot of doors for Yoo: some of her first opportunities to serve people through food and volunteering were at her church and one of her brothers at church became a mentor when she attempted to start her own business. Yoo feels that her faith has truly helped her reach her goals, and she knew that she couldn’t build Honey Day by herself. Her faith allows her to see the bigger picture of providing others and finding relief from work.

“Our mission is to be a warm and welcoming space for everyone. And it’s really meant to have those vibes of serving the community well … If a group of moms can come and have an hour and a half brunch and really enjoy their time and leave feeling refreshed, then we’ve done our part, right? We played a part in impacting their life in some positive way.”