Ever since Bonchon announced that it would be opening a location in Canton’s Broom Factory last summer, local foodies have been anxiously awaiting the chance to dig in to the restaurant’s signature twice-fried chicken wings. And, earlier this week, they got their wish.
The South Korea-based chain, which has a flagship store in Manhattan, quietly debuted with a soft-opening on Tuesday. Though management opened the doors without any announcement, word quickly spread throughout the community.
“In the evening we creep up to almost an hour wait,” says Greg Trepetin, Bonchon’s Baltimore-area developer. “And we haven’t even officially opened.”
Trepetin says that the spot will remain in soft-opening mode, operating limited hours from 2-8 p.m., while his staff gets into the groove of accommodating the neighborhood’s high demand. An official grand opening date has not yet been determined, and Trepetin says he’s in no rush.
“I’m not going to compromise the quality just so we can make an extra buck,” he says. “Until everything is up to our standards, I’m going to try to make as many people happy as I can.”
Emphasizing the eatery’s made-from-scratch philosophy, Trepetin says that it’s going to take some time to ensure seamless kitchen operations—mentioning that, on average, Bonchon’s made-to-order chicken wings take upwards of 25 minutes to prepare.
“It’s not fast-food,” he adds. “Bonchon forces you to actually sit down and enjoy your meal—it’s not something you can consume in five minutes.”
The 2500-square-foot eatery, which is relatively small compared to other locations in the area, offers the chain’s signature chicken wings, drumsticks, and strips alongside Korean-inspired dishes including rice bowls, steamed buns, and bulgogi—grilled marinated beef served over white rice with steamed vegetables.
Though he is currently focusing on getting the Canton property up and running, Trepetin will also oversee a Bonchon location inside the new Foundry Row development in Owings Mills. Slated to open summer 2017, the Baltimore County eatery will have a more modern look, with lounge areas, outdoor seating, and an emphasis on bar service.
Trepetin says that there are a number of reasons why Bonchon has gained such a loyal following, citing the restaurant’s authentic cuisine, relaxed atmosphere, and focus on hospitality.
“Within a month we’ll know half of our customers by first name,” he says. “Those things are slowly drifting away. Banks don’t even do that anymore.”