Paul Chung is an entrepreneur. He moved to the Seattle area from Korea 13 years ago, and quietly opened a grocery store in Auburn--a typical I-5 corridor middle-class town halfway between Seattle and Tacoma. Eventually the short, shy thirtysomething man started a small restaurant, Ginger Teriyaki II, on A Street Southeast. The restaurant is a popular neighborhood spot--last week, there were couples on lunch dates, solo diners, and a few scattered business meetings filling the place at noon. Two friendly Asian women, also in their 30s, waited on the mostly white customers. Chung was in the kitchen, a black apron over his simple white T-shirt and khakis, trying to keep up with the orders. He works seven days a week, up to 15 hours a day, he says.

But he had bigger business plans: He wanted to open a store a few doors down from the restaurant, which is in a newly built (and half-vacant) strip mall.

Chung secured a lease on the large space between a pizza joint and a dry cleaner, put in new carpet, and hooked up phone service and electricity. Finally, he installed a large sign over the door--"Deja Blue." He was ready to stock the space with adult videos and novelty items, and prepare for an April 1 grand opening.

But installing the sign was as far as Chung's neighbors would let him go.

"When I saw the sign, I just went over to the SeaTac strip, and took some pictures," says neighbor Dianne Esplin, referring to the commercial strip 20 minutes northwest of Auburn, lined with hourly motels and adult-oriented businesses. "I got a feel for what was there, and didn't want that in our neighborhood."

Esplin, an actively involved mom, felt Deja Blue would be the start of a downward spiral for her neighborhood. She called the strip mall's property manager and scheduled a meeting to discuss the new store.

"[Chung] has a constitutional right to open the business," she says, "and I exercised my constitutional right to tell him I didn't want it there."

She told a few friends about her planned March 5 meeting with Chung, and flyers went up throughout the community. That night--instead of a small meeting with Esplin, Chung, and the landlord--more than 100 Auburn residents showed up outside the empty storefront to protest the business.

Chung was amazed--he expected a meeting with his landlord and a few neighbors. The large crowd surprised him. Two days later, he was still shaken up over the reaction.

"My feeling is, 'Oh my, so many people,'" he said. Chung speaks slightly broken English in a soft voice, so during the emotional face-off he used an interpreter. The opposition to his business was so huge that he decided right then and there to abandon his plans.

"They said, 'This is not a neighborhood business,'" Chung says. "Some people said, "You okay. But why you open this business?'" He didn't want to alienate the neighborhood, despite the $11,000 he had already invested in the business. The protesters threatened to boycott his restaurant if he opened Deja Blue, a risk he didn't want to take.

"No more. I'm done," he said a few days later, recalling the meeting. "I already called Puget Power, disconnected the phone." The sign came down the day after the protest, he said, exhausted by the situation.

Chung was surprised--there are other adult stores in Auburn, like Lover's Package a few miles north (which hasn't been picketed ever in its 15 years at that location). He didn't realize his nascent business would cause such a ruckus.

But Esplin says the trouble with Chung is over now. "We aren't going to harbor any grudges."