UPDATE: A BIBIBOP rep emailed and said they’ve delayed the Schaumburg opening to Friday, Aug 11. The amended story follows.
BIBIBOP Asian Grill, the chain of Columbus, Ohio-based Korean-inspired fast-casual restaurants, has arrived in the Chicago market. They opened in The Loop on Monday and is slated to open on Friday in Schaumburg. The company took over the leases from ShopHouse Asian Kitchen, the assembly-line spin-off from Chipotle that closed down in March.
Likewise, BIBIBOP has taken over the two Chicago-area ShopHouses. Customers can assemble their own version of bibimbap, the sometimes sizzling Korean rice and veggie staple. But customers don’t have to abide by tradition: Potatoes and cheese are available if patrons want to go that route.
BIBIBOP spokesman Andrew Shin touted the company’s ethical standards. They want to treat employees better and pay them more than minimum wage, for example. That trickles down to the customer who is treated better by a happier employee. Dishes hover around $8 for a rice bowl with a protein.
There’s obvious parallels drawn with Chiptole, which dropped the ShopHouse brand after profits plummeted overall after the burrito chain’s health problems. Shin advises that BIBIBOP really is different. They use fresh produce and meats. They don’t pluck chopped lettuce from a bag; they chop the veggies onsite.
The condiment line is also unique. Customers will find an assortment of sauces, including gojuchang, readily available in pumps. The condiment line is also where customers will find miso soup. Shin said it’s complimentary. Visitors don’t even have to make a purchase.
Shin certainly sounds energized. BIBIBOP has already opened restaurants in Washington, D.C. and other markets where ShopHouse closed. They’re part of the Charleys Philly Steaks chain. On Tuesday, BIBIBOP also opened a Cleveland location.
Whether or not that recipe works in Chicago and Schaumburg remains to be seen. But curious eaters can check out the location at DePaul’s Downtown campus today and the Schaumburg location on Friday, Aug. 11.