Munsok So, best known locally as the owner of Drunken Fish, is opening his newest restaurant, Kimchi Guys (612 North 2nd Street, 314-766-4456)
, this Friday, February 1. The fast-casual Korean eatery is located in Laclede's Landing on the first floor of the historic Cutlery Building, which So has owned since 2006.
This will be the first Korean fried chicken restaurant in St. Louis, but the concept is hardly new. In Korea, So says, there is one on every corner. "You can compare it to a Starbucks in Seattle," he says.
The chicken is double-fried so it's extra crispy; diners can choose from sauces that include Korean Buffalo and Honey Butter. Kimchi Guys' large menu also features items including Korean barbecue, barbecue bowls, dumplings and sandwiches. Vegan dishes made with plant-based chicken are also on offer.
So is excited to open for business and ready to see how it helps bring back Laclede's Landing. Once a popular party destination, the historic neighborhood has struggled in recent years to bring in locals.
So is familiar with the scene: He previously operated a Drunken Fish on site. But after the partial collapse of the building's south wall three years ago, he had to close the sushi restaurant.
"Reopening Drunken Fish would have been the easiest thing to do," says So. "But there is a new concept trending in St. Louis, the Korean culinary scene. It is fun and exciting. We hope to make St. Louis proud."
And the first floor restaurant is no longer the only destination in the Cutlery building, which has six stories. So has also opened two event spaces on site
, with a third available for bookings some time this year.
So also plans to open a second restaurant, a cafe called Miss Java on the first floor. It will feature specialty coffees and Liege waffles.
The new businesses hope to capitalize on the renovations of the grounds of the Gateway Arch, which opened last year and finally connect the national park site to the rest of downtown — and Laclede's Landing. But CityArchRiver renovation is not the only thing that has local business owners hopeful. For the first time, there are multi-family residential lofts on Laclede's Landing. The Pepper Lofts are now leasing in the former Metro Transit Headquarters, only blocks away from Kimchi Guys.
Starting February 1, you can order Kimchi Guys online for pick up or delivery. The restaurant will be open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. for its grand opening, and after that from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily.
During the grand opening, Kimchi Guys will be donating 100 percent of its net profits to the ALS Association- St. Louis Regional Chapter.