Windy City Media Group Frontpage News
Celebrating 30 Years of Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Trans News
home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2018-12-12
DOWNLOAD ISSUE
About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage

Sponsor
Sponsor

  NIGHTSPOTS

SAVOR Talking with Will Song of bopNgrill
DISH Dining Guide
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times
2018-11-25

facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email


In Chicago's restaurant scene, it can be tough to survive with just one establishment.

However, Will Song has been pretty successful, with two locations of the fast-casual Korean restaurant bopNgrill ( www.bopngrill.com/ )—one in Rogers Park and the other in Lake View. ( Now, he's also part-owner of the Evanston chicken restaurant 10Q, along with Chicago clothing store Belmont Army owner David Yoo, according to The Daily Northwestern. )

Song recently talked with Windy City Times about various aspects of bopNgrill—including a legal tussle that took place a few years ago.

Windy City Times: I can imagine that you're pretty busy, with all these restaurants.

Will Song: Yes—I am very fortunate.

WCT: Tell me about how bopNgrill came to be. I understand you sank your life savings into it.

WS: [Laughs] Yeah. I was working in different kitchens in Chicago; my last gig was working at Sunda. I was there for about a year and a half as a sous chef, and I decided to try something on my own.

I looked into opening a restaurant, but realized it's very expensive. I guess I was kind of naive thinking that I'd get into this without any real capital. I thought that dream would die pretty soon because I didn't have any money.

One day I was in Evanston visiting a friend at Northwestern [University]. I took Church Street back home and I saw a sign that had "Mr. Burger" on it, and stopped in because I was hungry. Long story short, after ordering—and t took about 30 minutes to get my food even though I was the only one in there—the owner found out what I did for a living, and asked if I wanted to buy the restaurant. When I got home, I started thinking, "Maybe I should do this, because I could probably get it cheap." Also, it was across the street from Evanston [Township] High School, which has two or three thousand students there. So I bought the business for about $10,000 and opened two weeks later.

So I thought I better brush up my resume because there was no business at this restaurant—but, for whatever reason, it got better. [The Evanston location of bopNgrill closed in 2012.]

WCT: I saw a picture of you with chef Guy Fieri. What's the story behind that?

WS: So, that was when the executive producer [of the TV show Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives] called our [Rogers Park] location, saying they'd be in Chicago filming. When I first got the call, I thought, "This is the worst prank ever. Why would you do this to me?" [Interviewer laughs.] But the person said, "No—we're really coming, and we'd like to feature you." Three months later, it aired. We were very lucky; that pretty much put us on the map.

WCT: The restaurant has also been featured in Men's Journal. Does that mean the food is good for you? [Laughs]

WS: [Laughs] I guess so! That was a little bit of a shock when they said, "We like to feature this burger in Men's Journal."

WCT: How would you describe the cuisine?

WS: It's just things I grew up eating all the time. At home, I was eating rice and meat. At school, I was eating burgers, hot dogs, pizza and fries. That was kind of how the menu turned out, initially.

WCT: Does the menu change?

WS: Yeah—we try to put specials here and there. But I think one of the biggest challenges I've faced in the last few years is that when you have more than one location, it's hard to maintain the quality control. The workforce you hire is sometimes entry-level, so you have to make sure you keep up the quality as you're growing.

WCT: For people who have not tried Korean food, how do you recommend navigating the menu?

WS: Even though Korean food is pretty popular now in the States, it's still not common for people to try kimchi or the other basic staples. So one thing I wanted to push was making some of the traditional ingredients and dishes mainstream, like tofu or bi bim bop, which is like Korea's answer to the burrito bowl. If you like it, great—maybe you'll go to a traditional Korean restaurant and try a full onslaught of ingredients.

WCT: And there was an umami burger that bopNgrill had—but then a legal problem surfaced. Isn't "umami" an everyday word? I could see a problem, maybe, if you had a Beyonce Burger.

WS: [Laughs] Of course—and "umami" is an everyday word. So that lawsuit was a few years back. We're a little dinky restaurant in Chicago, and this larger spot knocked on our door, saying, "You're infringing on our trademark." I asked my attorney and he said, "Don't worry about it." So they sued—and I had to hire an attorney and deal with [legal processes]. When you're a company that large, you can do whatever you want to a little dinky place.

You can't trademark "umami," but you can trademark "umami" and "burger" together. But I wasn't calling my [sandwich] "Umami Burger." My attorney said, "You have a great case, so how much money do you have to litigate this case because they have deep pockets. … I'd advise you to settle. Yeah, you'd probably win—but at what cost?"

[Settling] was the hardest thing. We had to settle and move forward. I didn't know I'd have to deal with lawsuits, taxes, payroll, compliance and other things; I just wanted to cook—but that's just one component. There were so many issues I didn't understand at first. Things can get pretty vicious.

WCT: But if you want to name a burger after us, feel free.

WS: [Laughs] Let's do it—The Windy City Times Burger!


facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email





Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


  ARTICLES YOU MIGHT LIKE

Gay News

DINING Twain brunch, Little Goat, December Pride event 2018-12-11 - —Midwestern-inspired spot Twain, 2445 N. Milwaukee Ave., is now open for Sunday brunch. Menu items include cast iron butterscotch pecan roll, brulee grapefruit, ...


Gay News

SAVOR 'Pie in the Sky'; Heartland closing; Yugen opening 2018-12-10 - A pizza dinner is a pizza dinner, until there's a special element added—like dining 1,300 feet high. Skydeck Chicago ( 233 S. Franklin ...


Gay News

DINING Gift drive, Theater on the Lake, 'Charlie Brown' Christmas 2018-12-04 - —Caffe Umbria, in Logan Square ( 2545 W. Armitage Ave. ) and River North ( 346 N. Clark St. ), is hosting a ...


Gay News

World of Chocolate provides dessert for a good cause 2018-12-03 - Hundreds of community members visited AIDS Foundation of Chicago's ( AFC ) annual World of Chocolate celebration and fundraiser at Revel Fulton Market, ...


Gay News

SAVOR Conrad's Grill; Swissotel's Santa Suite 2018-12-02 - Apparently, students at Michigan State University know how to party—and how to eat after one. The fast-casual restaurant Conrad's Grill ( 1422 N. ...


Gay News

DINING Travelle cocktails, new Wow Bao, 'Vanderpump' parties 2018-11-27 - —Travelle at the Langham, 300 N. Wabash Ave., now has art-inspired signature cocktails. The restaurant's new cocktail menu is influenced by famous works ...


Gay News

DINING Tokio Pub burgers, The Dearborn's pies, Sable's pop-up bar 2018-11-19 - —On Wednesdays, Schaumburg's Tokio Pub is offering, for $12, any combination of three burgers—including the Tokio Sunrise Burger, Eruption Burger and the signature ...


Gay News

SAVOR Talking with Travelle's chefs; dining news 2018-11-19 - There was a time when dining at a hotel's restaurant was almost an afterthought. How times have changed. Many hotels across the nation ...


Gay News

Always Andersonville Pledge Local Campaign begins holiday schedule Nov. 24 2018-11-16 - CHICAGO ( November 16, 2018 ): Over 100 Andersonville businesses are featured in the Andersonville Chamber of Commerce's ( ACC ) holiday programming ...


Gay News

DINING 'Friends' pop-up, Avli opens, Chicago Wolves 2018-11-13 - —Replay Lincoln Park, 2833 N. Sheffield Ave., has transformed into a Friends-themed experience open through Sunday, Nov. 25. Fans will be able to ...


 



Copyright © 2018 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.

 

 

 

TRENDINGBREAKINGPHOTOS

Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor


 



Sponsor

About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage


About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Subscriptions      Distribution      Windy City Queercast     
Queercast Archives      Advertising  Rates      Deadlines      Advanced Search     
Press  Releases      Event Photos      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Post an Event      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Blogs      Spotlight  Video     
Classifieds      Real Estate      Place a  Classified     

Windy City Media Group produces Windy City Queercast, & publishes Windy City Times,
The Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community,
Nightspots, Out! Resource Guide, and Identity.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.