Wicker Parkers can get ready for uber-popular Korean chicken: Fast-expanding chain Bonchon has revealed the location of a second Chicago outpost on Wicker Park’s Division Street via building permits and the building’s landlord. Last week, the city issued a construction permit for an estimated $200,000 interior build-out of its first floor restaurant at 1732 W. Division Street. The just-built storefront anchors a new 4-story apartment building that replaced an empty lot.
Bonchon is a casual chain based out of South Korea that serves a variety of Korean items but is most famous for its chicken wings coated in a sticky and spicy soy glaze. They arrived in Chicago in July with a Chinatown location and customers waited in long lines to try the addicting chicken. There’s also plans for a location in suburban Glenview, but there’s no word when Bonchon Wicker Park or Glenview will open. Bonchon’s menu also includes fried chicken and bulgogi sliders, Korean tacos, and bi bim bop. The chain’s website already includes a Division Street location — without an address. The Wicker Park menu is Bonchon’s standard fare and can be accessed at the link.
Franchise owner Kenny Chen, who also operates the Bonchon in Chinatown Square Mall, told the Tribune earlier this year that he leased a space along Division Street but did not say exactly where. Chen did not respond to a request for comment, nor did Tom Li, who owns nearby Japanese restaurant Sushi Taku at 1904 W. Division Street, and will also be involved with the new Wicker Park Bonchon, according to the building owner Steve Lipe. Lipe, Bonchon’s Wicker Park landlord, said that Bonchon rented the 3,000 square-foot space.
It’s unclear if Bonchon will aim to get a liquor license. Lipe said that the wide sidewalk with enough room for a patio made the space attractive to Bonchon. The space is also next door to longtime Polish dive bar Zakopane, which could create synergy for fans of Korean fried chicken and cheap booze in the area. It wouldn’t be the first time Chicago’s seen Poland and Korea mix; that’s the concept in Bridgeport at Kimski.
Founded in 2002, Bonchon means “hometown” in Korean. Bonchon has more than 200 outposts, mostly in Asia. The first U.S. location opened in 2006 in Fort Lee, New Jersey, and since then, the chain has rapidly expanded across the country from New York to California.
In addition to the Bonchon storefront, there are two other spaces for rent in the building; Lipe says he’s talking to several potential tenants interested in joining Bonchon. Stay tuned for updates.