Kimchi Guys, 612North Developments Breathing New Life into Laclede’s Landing
ST. LOUIS, MO/November 19, 2017 (STL.News) – As the Arch grounds renovations come closer to completion, some developments in the neighboring Laclede’s Landing are promising fresh new flavors. Drunken Fish owner Munsok So is in the process of renovating a five-story building at 612 North Second Street. He’s bringing a new restaurant, coffee shop, office and event spaces to an entertainment district that has struggled during the Arch re-do. So’s development appears to be the latest evidence of a changing tide for the restaurant and entertainment industry on the Landing.
Businesses on Laclede’s Landing have struggled in recent years. More than four-years of street improvements and Arch grounds renovations made just getting to the riverfront entertainment district extremely difficult. That decreased traffic is blamed for an estimated 30 percent drop in business on the Landing. There were 14 bars in the district in 2013 when construction began. By 2015, half had closed. But traffic to the Landing has picked up since Leonor K. Sullivan Blvd. reopened last year, and local business owners are hopeful that fortunes are on the rise. In a sign that the tide is indeed turning, substantial new projects are now underway, including So’s.
The local restaurateur is spending $3 million to renovate the old Cutlery Building at 612 North 2nd Street. The historic structure dates to 1882 and was once owned by Missouri Botanical Garden founder Henry Shaw. When the renovations are complete, So’s building will be home to a coffee shop, restaurant, three event spaces, and offices.
The ground floor will house Kimchi Guys. The fast-casual Korean fusion restaurant will offer house-made kimchi, Korean fried chicken, Korean barbecue, and other favorites like bibimbap and Korean tacos (playfully dubbed takos). Diners will be able to wash it all down with both American and Korean soft drinks as well as local beers. Since So’s vision includes an eatery that is part kimchi factory, customers will be able to buy kimchi jars to go too. The current plan calls for three varieties: cabbage, cucumber, and radish to be available. The new restaurant is expected to open before the end of the year. Sharing the ground floor with Kimchi Guys will be a coffee shop called Miss Java that will offer house-roasted coffee plus Belgian waffles and sandwiches. There will also be a small meeting and event space called KOR.
When So bought the building in 2006, he had plans to develop the site for a new Drunken Fish location, but his plans have since changed. Instead, So is developing two unique events venues—one in the basement; the other on the top floor. 612North, in the refurbished lower-level, is expected to open in 2018 offering a one-of-a-kind event space. It will seat up to 225 people and feature original large stone arches, sculpted wave wooden panels, a huge, sleek bar, DJ booth, projection screen, two televisions, and a dance floor. On the fifth floor, So is building VUE. The venue is aptly named with its floor-to-ceiling windows offering nice views of the Arch, the Mississippi River, and downtown St. Louis. VUE’s decor is a combination of elegant, modern fixtures and rustic elements like exposed brick walls. VUE seats up to 325 and will be available for weddings, corporate and private events, and charity functions when it opens in December.
The fourth floor of the 50,000-square foot building will be home to Drunken Fish’s corporate offices. Renovations are underway on floors two and three as well. When finished in 2018, they will be available for lease by other office tenants.
So isn’t the only one breathing new life into the Landing. Advantes Development is transforming the former Metro Transit (Bi-State) headquarters into apartments and offices to accommodate an established Landing business, Abstrakt Marketing Group’s expansion plans. The project is expected to add 26 residential units and as many as 100 new workers to the neighborhood. More people on the Landing every day is expected to mean more business for local restaurants, and that’s delicious news for both business owners and patrons of this iconic entertainment district.
By Susan Smith-Harmon – published on STL.News by St. Louis Media, LLC
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