Mr. Kimchi coming to old Muramoto, Cuco’s location on King Street
A Beloit restaurateur who said he’s opened 15 restaurants in his career is now opening Mr. Kimchi Korean Restaurant on King Street as early as next month.
The Madison spot will bring his current restaurant total to four, said Tai Park, who owns a Mr. Kimchi Korean BBQ restaurant in Mt. Prospect, Illinois, as well as Zen Sushi and Grill in Beloit, and a Korean restaurant in Milwaukee called Stone Bowl Grill.
His Madison Mr. Kimchi will be at 225 King St., in what was best known as Restaurant Muramoto and was most recently the short-lived Cuco’s Mexican Fusion.
At his 5-year-old Milwaukee restaurant, Park said he had a customer from Madison who kept urging him to open a restaurant here.
He first looked at spaces in Greenway Station in Middleton and on State Street, but finally signed a lease for the King Street spot. “I always wanted to come to Madison,” Park said. “It’s the No. 1 city. It’s beautiful. People are nicer here. I feel more vibrant, more energy here.”
Park, 50, said his Madison Mr. Kimchi is going to serve American-style, modern Korean cuisine.
In Madison, he intends to serve handmade dumplings, beef tartar with local beef, and house-made kimchi. The focus will be on lettuce-wrapped Korean barbecue.
Mr. Kimchi Korean BBQ in Mt. Prospect has grills on the tables where customers cook their own food, but in Madison, the meat will be grilled in the kitchen.
There will be some similarities between the two restaurants, but many differences. “We’re going for a Michelin star,” he said about the Madison restaurant, laughing.
Park lives in Beloit with his family, but is renting an apartment above the King Street restaurant while he gets it off the ground.
At age 17 he moved from South Korea to Chicago, where his mom was a cook in a Korean restaurant.
The 3,200-square-foot King Street restaurant didn’t need a lot of work. “A lot of things were here,” he said. “It’s a beautiful restaurant.”
Park said he intends to “set the tone” with the King Street spot and then would love to open other Madison restaurants.
In the meantime, he’s having difficulty finding servers and cooks. As soon as he has a staff in place, he hopes to open, and predicts that could happen in early January.
Opening a restaurant is so much work, and takes so many hours, Park said he doesn’t know why he keeps at it. At one point he considered becoming a contractor like his brother, doing roofing and siding.
“The only thing I know is this,” he said. “I keep coming back to the restaurant. This is my passion. This is the only thing I know. What can I do?”