Kang Jin-Ho ’s expression grew dazed as he stared at the flames roaring inside the stone oven.
Park Yu-Min and Ju Yeong-Gi were standing on either side of him, their faces currently stuck in the ’Not sure what kind of expressions to make in this situation ’ mode.

In front of the three dazed young men was Jo Gyu-Min kitted out in an apron and a huge chef ’s hat, a toque.
With a serious face, he addressed the trio.
“The timing is absolutely crucial, gentlemen! The timing!”

“…Hold on.
Excuse me for a sec, Chief Jo?” Ju Yeong-Gi sobered quickly enough to ask the fundamental question plaguing this situation.
“The whole reason why we ’ve decided to go with pizza was that making it is easy for anyone to learn, right? Even if you ’re a dunce who can only make cup ramen?”

“Yes, that ’s the case.”

Ju Yeong-Gi briefly glanced in Kang Jin-Ho ’s direction while mentioning the ’dunce ’ bit of his sentence, then he gave a hollow chuckle.
“But, isn ’t this oven-baked pizza?! In other words, don ’t you need to know how to bake like a pro? Are you seriously asking Jin-Ho to bake pizza this way?”

“Now that you mention it…”

“Besides, what are you even trying to say with that interior slogan? The Oven-Baked Traditional Korean Pizza?! Isn ’t it supposed to be the Traditional Italian Pizza instead?”

Jo Gyu-Min replied testily, “But none of us learned how to bake pizza in Italy.
Human beings should be honest, you know.”

“Why don ’t you just curse us to bankruptcy?! Why don ’t you?!” Ju Yeong-Gi groaned in despair, forcing Jo Gyu-Min to sneakily avert his gaze.

Their situation wasn ’t this bad at the beginning.
Jo Gyu-Min really did want to set up a decent pizzeria, but then…
Various events, including trying to modify the plan to meet Hwang Jeong-Hu ’s expectations and the report getting thrown into the rubbish bin, caused this situation to go progressively sideways.

Going with a known franchise would mean the success or failure depended too much on that company ’s marketing team doing its job and the public ’s brand awareness, said Hwang Jeong-Hu.
Which forced Jo Gyu-Min to drop the idea of a franchised store and aim for the bog-standard mom-and-pop-type pizzeria, but then…
Well, the resulting article turned out to be rather peculiar, and that presented a bit of a problem.

Jo Gyu-Min quickly tried to defend himself.
“O-oven-baked pizzas are the best, don ’t you know?!”

Ju Yeong-Gi tutted unhappily.
“That ’s the case only with the pros, Chief Jo.
I ’m telling you, you shouldn ’t underestimate running a private business like this.”

“You don ’t need to worry! That ’s exactly why I learned how to bake pizza in an oven! I paid a traditional Italian pizzeria a handsome sum to receive intense training for three days straight, you see!”

“…Why didn ’t you put ’Traditional Italian Pizza ’ on the signboard, then?!”

Jo Gyu-Min sheepishly looked away again.
“Well, that didn ’t quite feel right, you see…”

Ju Yeong-Gi gave a hollow laugh.
He peeked his head outside the kitchen to take a look at the customer area and immediately felt this stuffy, frustrating sensation.

’Man, this place reminds me of that pizzeria I found when I ran away from home during my middle school days… ’

This pizzeria featuring all of Jo Gyu-Min ’s preferences was like a messy concoction of influences containing old-school quaintness, punk aesthetics and what was trending nowadays.
The tables were wide and spacious, yet the chairs had this antiquated style more suitable for a cafe.
Meanwhile, the interior design was…
It might sound strange, but it had this feeling of a saloon usually seen in old Western movies.

’Yup, this is crap. ’

Ju Yeong-Gi ’s hollow chuckle broke free from his restraints once more.
If this place generated any amount of revenue, the owner had to be the God of Commerce, or God himself had to have blessed this establishment.
Ju Yeong-Gi shifted his probing gaze back to Jo Gyu-Min.

Chief Jo isn ’t usually like this, so why…? ’

The décor was so bad it spat on everything Jo Gyu-Min had done so far to impress people.
How on Earth did such a horrifying hybrid of taste come to life, anyway?!

Some people in this world would display incredible abilities when dealing with matters concerning themselves but were totally hopeless with everything else.
Ju Yeong-Gi was now seriously suspecting if Jo Gyu-Min was such a person.

“The location here is great, though…” Park Yu-Min muttered while observing all the passersby outside the store.

“W-why are you all so being pessimistic like this?!” Jo Gyu-Min urgently cried out.
“This is neat and eye-catching, isn ’t it? I assure you, we will be a huge hit!”

“Neat and eye-catching?!”

“A huge hit?!”

Ju Yeong-Gi and Park Yu-Min retorted in stereo, forcing Jo Gyu-Min to stumble in a fluster, his face getting redder.

’Hold on, since when did this two have such chemistry? ’

When did Ju Yeong-Gi and Park Yu-Min grow close enough to throw around combination attacks like this? Jo Gyu-Min tried to get a hold of the situation again.
“L-let ’s not be pessimistic about this, and—”

However, Kang Jin-Ho interrupted first by raising his hand.

Everyone turned their attention to him, then Jo Gyu-Min tilted his head.
“Yes, Mister Jin-Ho?”

“For now, please show me how to make pizza.
We ’ll talk about the rest later.”

“Ah! Of course!” Jo Gyu-Min ’s expression brightened instantly after Kang Jin-Ho provided his timely support fire.
For sure, Kang Jin-Ho and Jo Gyu-Min were on the same wavelength! “First of all, kneading the dough is extremely crucial.
According to what I ’ve learned…
Eh, so…
Like this…”

Jo Gyu-Min began kneading the dough.
What a relief it was that his movements displayed enough hints of someone who had learned the art of baking pizza.
What was a little less reassuring; no, sad, in this case, was how his hands kept waving this way and that to resemble the gesturing of an orchestra conductor.

There was one crucial difference here, though, and that was…
While the orchestra conductor knew what he was doing, Jo Gyu-Min didn ’t seem to know where to put his hands next.

“Excuse me, but…
Y ’know, this is purely my opinion, but, uh…” Ju Yeong-Gi stopped Jo Gyu-Min and asked, “This pizzeria will fail hard even with you at the helm, Chief Jo.
So, isn ’t it kinda obvious what will happen when Jin-Ho runs it after learning from you?”


Jo Gyu-Min wordlessly slammed his palm into the dough.


Thankfully, the pizza ended up being completed somehow.
The resulting product resting on the table was…
certainly something that would be acknowledged as ’pizza ’ by everyone present.
However, there was a minor problem, and that had to do with the fact that only those present could bring themselves to call this charred lump of flour ’pizza ’.

The three men beside Jo Gyu-Min witnessed how this black lump was created under the pretext of making a pizza, but if some random person saw this thing without knowing how it came to be? They would only be able to describe this bizarre object as a ’round and uneven, lumpy black thingy ’.

Park Yu-Min started the train first.
“Yup, bankruptcy.”

“Bankruptcy, it is…”

“Bankru—” Even Kang Jin-Ho was about to parrot his friends only to stop himself after noticing Jo Gyu-Min ’s pleading eyes staring at him.

“M-Mister Jin-Ho, listen…”

“…So, you want me to sell this?” Kang Jin-Ho stared at the ’pizza ’ and chuckled helplessly.
“I didn ’t think there would be someone worse than my master at baking pizza…”

We are, find us on google.

“I ’m sorry?”

“Ah, no.
It ’s nothing.” Kang Jin-Ho shook his head.
He finally felt compelled to re-evaluate his master.
Well, that person had somehow managed to create an edible ’thing ’ despite the lack of ingredients, after all! Besides, how could he not change his mind when there was a man here who—despite the favorable environment—performed a miracle of turning a lump of flour into a lump of charcoal?!

Regardless, Kang Jin-Ho ’s conclusion from this demonstration was pretty simple.

“Well, then…” Kang Jin-Ho chuckled.
“Why don ’t we review everything from the beginning?”

“Of course…” Jo Gyu-Min muttered as his shoulders drooped powerlessly.


During the crisis meeting that followed, the person who offered the flashiest opinion was, surprisingly enough, Ju Yeong-Gi.

“I ’m telling you, this way of learning will get us nowhere! The fastest will be to send Jin-Ho to another pizzeria and have him go through a crash course.”

Park Yu-Min shook his head.
“You know Jin-Ho ’s busy.”

“Busy, my foot! He ’ll have plenty of free time once he stops working in his dad ’s cafe! I mean, he ’s about to start his own store, so how long is he planning to cling to his dad ’s cafe and work part-time? Jin-Ho, tell your old man that you can ’t work there anymore.”

“Mm…” Kang Jin-Ho contemplatively nodded away.

Ju Yeong-Gi still wasn’t done.
“And get rid of that stupid signboard! Traditional oven-baked Korean pizza? My ass!”

“B-but, I worked hard to come up with that…” Jo Gyu-Min muttered ruefully.

Ju Yeong-Gi responded by pounding his chest in frustration.
“Chief Jo! Promise me that you ’ll never, eeeeever, retire from your current job! I don ’t care how, you must stay in the corporation even after you reach your retirement age! Do it even if you have to cling to the chairman ’s pants or something! Chief Jo, if you retire early and open a fried chicken place, then I assure you, the remainder of your life will turn into a TV drama storyline!”

Jo Gyu-Min stumbled back.
“T-TV drama storyline…?”

“Yes! Let ’s try to live like an entertainment show, shall we?! Stop trying to shoot a documentary, please!”

“Thank you for your advice…” Jo Gyu-Min weakly shrunk to the corner.

Ju Yeong-Gi turned his head and raised his voice again.
“And you! Don ’t you have an opinion yourself?”

Kang Jin-Ho glanced at the stone oven, then said in a low voice, “The oven is too small.”

“Wha? What are you talking about, Jin-Ho?”

“A bigger oven.
I need a bigger oven than that.”

“What? Are you trying to roast a whole pig or something?!” Ju Yeong-Gi threw his hands up in the air, then sharply turned his head.

The subject of the sharp glare—Park Yu Min—slightly flinched before he said in a hurry, “We need to unify the interior theme.
It ’s way too messy and disorientating.”

“Kuh~! As expected of you, Park Yu-Min.
I knew you would be a sensible person.
So, what should we do about it?”


Ju Yeong-Gi groaned.
“You know, there are plenty of people who know how to point out what the problem is but can ’t think of any solutions.”

Park Yu-Min sheepishly chuckled.
“It’s a relief that there are more people out there like me.
I would ’ve been sad if it was me alone.”

“That ’s not something to be happy about!” Ju Yeong-Gi spat flames out of his mouth as he glared at the trio.
“Aigoooo, you Three Stooges! If you have too much money rotting away in your pockets, use it to wipe your butts or make donations instead! Stop finding creative ways to throw money away!”

“Calm down, Yeong-Gi,” said Kang Jin-Ho.
He got up and patted Ju Yeong-Gi on the shoulder in a reassuring manner.

However, that failed to quell Ju Yeong-Gi ’s rage.


“What about the contract? Is there any condition that stipulates you gotta do as what the other side says?”

“Mm…?” Kang Jin-Ho glanced at Jo Gyu-Min.

Jo Gyu-Min urgently shook his head.
“N-no, there are no such clauses in the contract.
Our side is simply going to recover the investment toward the interior construction and the initial starting budget.
That ’s all.”

Ju Yeong-Gi nodded, then shifted his attention back to Kang Jin-Ho with his eyes ablaze.
“You gotta invest your own money.
You ’ve got enough of it in your bank account, right?”

Kang Jin-Ho coolly replied, “Yes, I do.”

Redo the whole interior.
Take that dumb signboard down as well as the store sign!”

“…But, that ’s going to delay the opening even further?”

“Instead of failing quickly, I ’d rather sell slowly.
Do you get me?”

“You have a point…” Kang Jin-Ho groaned in acceptance.

Even Park Yu-Min agreed with Ju Yeong-Gi ’s assessment.
“He ’s right.
This place will definitely fail if we don ’t fix this.”

Ju Yeong-Gi put his foot down.
“If I could help it, I ’d have kept my mouth shut, but I can ’t watch this crap anymore.
Jin-Ho, decide the upper limit of how much you want to invest in this place.
We ’ll then figure out the budget for the reconstruction.”

“Mm, got it.” Kang Jin-Ho nodded.

“And Chief Jo?”

“Y-yes?” Jo Gyu-Min quickly responded.

“What you did was very uncool, Chief Jo.
This whole idea was about Jin-Ho experiencing what it ’s like to manage a simple franchise.
So, isn ’t what you did a breach of contract? The way you handled this nonsense?”


“All the help you provided so far? Let ’s just say that it ’s all squared up now with what happened here.
Chief Jo, openly trying to screw someone over like this is wrong.”

“I ’m sorry…” Jo Gyu-Min replied, then his soulless gaze drifted up toward the ceiling.

’See, Chairman? I told you.
Didn ’t I say we should stick to the original plan? ’

Even though the culprit behind this crisis was none other than Jo Gyu-Min ’s destructive, questionable tastes, the man himself had utterly failed to recognize that.

Ju Yeong-Gi continued, “I know a dude that does interior decorations.
He ’ll give us a good deal once we put some liquor in his system and order everything we need in one go.”

“Hmm…” Kang Jin-Ho slowly rubbed his chin.

“So, Jin-Ho, your job is to learn how to bake pizzas in the meantime.
Chief Jo, you can find a place that ’ll teach him, yes?”

“Yes, I can do that.”

“Great! As for you, Yu-Min, you…
Mm, well, you can…”

Park Yu-Min ’s eyes quaked powerfully when Ju Yeong-Gi started hesitating.
Failing to get any kind of work here would prove that he was a surplus human being now, wouldn ’t it?!

“Hmm, how about you hold a fan autograph signing event on the day of the store opening? You can also advertise the store by saying you can taste the galaxy with the pizza…” Ju Yeong-Gi finally came up with an idea.

“What? You want me to plunge my friend ’s store into hell with my own hands?” Park Yu-Min replied in dismay.

Ju Yeong-Gi cackled.
“Anyway, every day we waste starting from now is money down the drain, folks.
Every minute and every second is money; remember that.
While we ’re shooting the breeze like this, we still have to pay the rent! So get a move on, now!”


“Roger that.”

Ju Yeong-Gi snorted triumphantly, then strode into the kitchen.
He whipped out his phone and began taking several pictures.

Park Yu-Min observed that spectacle for a bit before cautiously piping up, “By the way, wasn ’t Yeong-Gi supposed to be working as Eun-Yeong ’s manager?”

“Oh, that.
The thing is…” Kang Jin-Ho scratched his head.
“The agency said Yeong-Gi alone can ’t do everything, so the new arrangement is like, he ’ll show up for ’work ’ only when Eun-Yeong needs him for something.
The agency asked him to work for other talents to earn experience in the field, but he rejected the offer, apparently.”

“…Oh, so he ’s like…
an add-on?” Park Yu-Min narrowed his eyes.
Convenient to have around, but one wouldn’t lose anything by not having him around? He was someone like that? “Wait.
Doesn ’t that make Yeong-Gi the most ’surplus ’ out of everyone here?”

“I guess so…” Kang Jin-Ho shrugged his shoulders.

For some reason, the back of Ju Yeong-Gi passionately taking pictures of the kitchen came across as so—so sorrowful just then.

And another week went past…

The opening day for Kang Jin-Ho ’s first store, which caused him so many headaches and hiccups, had finally arrived.

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