PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) - We're learning that a man killed over the weekend was a well-known Portland business owner.
Family and friends say Matthew Choi was the co-founder of Choi’s Kimchi, which joined the Portland Farmers Market in 2011 and since then has become a well-known brand in the Northwest.
They're now remembering him after police say Choi was stabbed to death in his apartment early Sunday morning.
"His contribution can’t be quantified. He was a massive, massive part of the community. Him and his mother built a tiny shop and are the epitome of growing step by step a small business into a very large business," Amy Jermain, Executive Director at XXcelerate said.
Jermain said Choi coached other entrepreneurs there. Those who worked with him say his success was inspiring, and even more incredible was his eagerness to help everyone else.
"We were so proud of him, and often times, at awe of how natural and effortless he made everything seem." That's part of a statement from Choi's Kimchi Co. Co-founder Matt Choi, below with his mom, was killed early Sunday morning. Photo credit: "PhotosbyKim" pic.twitter.com/d4vGEipkWC— Audrey Weil (@audreytweil) October 28, 2020
"If you ask me honestly who’s the most supportive and kind, genuinely supportive and kind person you’ve ever met, I would say Matt Choi," Dirk Marshall with Marshall's Haute Sauce said.
His business and Choi’s Kimchi were neighbors for a time at the Portland Farmers Market.
Choi was also on the market's board of directors and helped mentor new vendors.
"Brilliant marketing guy, really comfortable talking to people, easy to make friendships and remember people, just someone everybody wanted to be around," Portland Farmers Market Executive Director Trudy Toliver said.
And he’d accomplished a lot at a young age. Family members say he had just celebrated his 33rd birthday when the unthinkable happened early Sunday morning.
Police haven’t released many details but say Choi was stabbed in his southeast Portland apartment and later died. Detectives are still looking for a suspect and any video that can help them piece together what happened.
"It makes no sense, I think anyone that knows him when you first hear you just feel hollow and cold and confused, I still feel most of those things," Marshall said.
Those who knew Choi say it was just an awful tragedy.
"He's just gonna be so missed, so missed by so many," Toliver said.
Family members sent FOX 12 the following statement from their business:
This is an impossible post to write. Our fearless leader and co-founder, Matt Choi, unexpectedly passed away October 25, 2020. A senseless tragedy. But, we remember his life – full of ambition and love. He loved his family, he loved his friends, he loved his mom, and he loved her kimchi so much he shared it with the world. In just ten short years we watched Choi’s Kimchi grow from a humble booth in the Portland Farmers Market to a wholesale specialty food manufacturer with our kimchi, sauces, and pickled products found in stores and local restaurants throughout the Northwest. He was behind every decision here; every part of this company was his heart and soul. Once Choi’s Kimchi was formed, he never looked back and sacrificed most of his Saturday mornings (and Friday nights for prepping) to sell kimchi at our booth – a big ask for any twenty-something! For Matt, Choi’s Kimchi wasn’t just a job, it was his passion, family, culture all in one and he thrived as the face and voice of our franchise. He never missed an opportunity to share his wisdom and advice to other local entrepreneurs and loved being a part of the thriving Portland foodie scene. We were so proud of him, and often times, at awe of how natural and effortless he made everything seem. We’ll never forget his sweet demeanor, kind heart, sense of humor, generosity, good nature, and his genuine love for the local community. The outpouring of love and support from all of you is incredible. We cherish each story you share.
Our hearts are broken. We never imagined this could happen to our Matthew, who had so much more to give. But, we do know this, without a doubt that Matt would want us to see his vision through. The Choi’s Kimchi family will get through this together. Please bear with us as we navigate the next steps forward. Our production facility is still operating and we are committed to continuing Matt’s legacy in each and every jar we pack.
Thank you for your support, prayers, thoughts – it’s what helps us get through each moment.
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