October 12, 2017

Karl Palma, Owner of Karl’s Balls

“Don’t let anything obstruct your happiness. If there’s something you feel that’s obstructing it, get rid of it.”

Karl Palma, Karl's Balls
Karl Palma, Karl's Balls

I took a year off from cooking…and then people started wondering where I was. They didn’t really know I was working at this Buddhist temple. So everybody was pushing me to start this up because there was this rumor that was like, ‘the best takoyaki balls in the world is Karl’s balls,’ so they were always saying that I had these stupid jokes about balls and takoyaki and Karl, and just, you know, childish humor. So in 2015 after I got married, my wife and I, we put our heads together and launched this thing in January 2015…and then from there, the ball kept rolling. No pun intended.”

Karl's Balls
Karl's Balls
Karl Palma, Karl's Balls
Karl Palma, Karl's Balls

Karl Palma’s success began with a mix of misfortunes and hard work. He spent nine months training to become a sound engineer, only to see his dream job at a recording studio slip through his fingers. But he pressed on and switched careers to become the general manager at a New York takoyaki store after picking up a building caretaker position for a nearby Buddhist temple. When his job as general manager didn’t work out, Karl took a break, refocused, and put his heart and soul into his newest endeavor: Karl’s Balls.

Takoyaki, Karl's Balls
Takoyaki, Karl's Balls
Takoyaki, Karl's Balls
Takoyaki, Karl's Balls

Karl is focused on constantly evolving and refining his product. He spends his days dreaming of takoyaki, preparing the octopus, and continuing his role taking care of the New York Buddhist Church. Unfortunately, that doesn’t leave him too much time to sleep. What Karl really cares about though, is creating a product and keeping his customers happy.

My belief is that if you put a sense of goodness, like a sense of good energy, into the food, it transfers from the owner, the business, to the staff, to the food, to the customer. And then within that, if you keep putting that out, like an omni-directional energy of good, the money comes.”

He was recently featured in a segment on the Japanese news broadcasting company NHK. During his time with the other takoyaki store, Karl was also featured in Tako NY, a documentary about takoyaki in New York City, that received wide press at the 2012 Food Film Festival. Even though he had a rough start, there is no doubt Karl will be able to overcome any challenge that is thrown his way.

Karl Palma, Karl's Balls
Karl Palma, Karl's Balls

As for what he plans to do next, Karl likes to keep things in perspective and focus on the now.

I’m kind of a ‘let it fly’ guy. I don’t try to think too much about the future. But I think as a business person that’s probably not a good idea. Who knows? I have no idea! I can’t predict the future, right? I do know that whatever I do now, it’s going to affect the future. So if I do a really good job now, how can I go wrong? How can I go wrong?”

Karl’s Balls does not have a permanent location, however pop-up stands can usually be found in Manhattan or Queens. Check social media for weekly location information.

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