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Local News

Korean barbecue restaurant owner hopes to help 'revive downtown Joliet'

K BBQ & Ribs to open late spring on Chicago Street

JOLIET – The 200 block of North Chicago Street in Joliet is getting another barbecue restaurant soon, but this one comes with a sweet and spicy twist.

Inseop Kim; his wife, Jessica; and daughter, Joanne, have joined forces to open K BBQ & Ribs in the former Chicago Style Ribs, 221 N. Chicago St., location.

A grease fire closed Chicago Style Ribs in January 2017.

“That location has been empty for a while,” said Lauren Las, marketing and events manager for the Joliet City Center Partnership. “We’re really excited to get a new restaurant down there, especially a Korean barbecue – something we don’t have downtown.”

Jessica Kim has been studying Korean barbecue for the past 30 years, Inseop Kim said. The family chose to start the new restaurant now because the cuisine has caught on around the world.

“It’s like a fever,” he said.

Joanne Kim earned her bachelor’s degree in journalism and worked in New York for several years before realizing the culinary arts were her true passion. She attended Joliet Junior College’s culinary arts program and began working in downtown Chicago.

“She was so excited about cooking she changed her whole career,” her father said.

Joanne Kim also has traveled with her mother to about a dozen countries in Europe, South America and southeast Asia to learn more about Korean-style barbecue.

Inseop Kim said Korean barbecue is “totally different” from American-style. Sauces are both sweet and spicy, and garlic is generously used. At least 10 different side dishes will be available.

Kimchi, a fermented vegetable dish made with garlic, salt, vinegar, chili peppers and other spices, also will be on the menu.

The Kim family wants to provide a casual dining atmosphere, and the restaurant will feature catering and delivery options. About 85 percent of the business is completed.

Inseop Kim said he hopes to open in late May or early June.

The current sign is a temporary one, and the city of Joliet has agreed to subsidize some of the new restaurant’s start-up expenses, he said.

He added that the family hopes the restaurant will continue to add to downtown Joliet’s revitalization, and Las agreed.

“People think of downtown as the Rialto. It’s great to build up that street, especially with the plan to redo that corridor in the coming years,” Las said.

Inseop KIm said the restaurant will be a landmark. He is looking forward to other restaurants opening in the area soon, as well.

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