Kalbi Taco Shack Closing Cherokee Spot, Moving to City Foundry

click to enlarge Kalbi Taco Shack is closing its Cherokee Street location and moving to City Foundry. - MABEL SUEN
Kalbi Taco Shack is closing its Cherokee Street location and moving to City Foundry.

Not long after opening Kalbi Taco Shack (2301 Cherokee Street, 314-240-5544) in 2016, Sue Wong-Shackelford knew she needed more space. Now, she's on the cusp of getting that additional real estate as part of the forthcoming City Foundry food hall.

Wong-Shackelford recently announced that she will be closing the Cherokee Street location of the popular Korean-Mexican restaurant on June 27 to go all-in on the new City Foundry space, which is slated to open in August. As she explains, the closure is bittersweet, but she is simply not able to run both locations and guarantee the quality of food that her customers have come to expect — and that she prides herself in serving.

"I want to be hands-on, and I want to keep my quality the way it is," Wong-Shackelford says. "I could delegate, but I don't want to, because I want to be all-in at City Foundry, and that's going to take the majority of my time. I just can't be at two places at once."

Kalbi Taco Shack was one of the first restaurants to sign on to the City Foundry project when it was announced three years ago. As Wong-Shackelford explains, she recognized the vision of the development right away and knew she wanted to be a part of it. Plus, the City Foundry spot offered her business ample parking, a massive seating area and easy access to her customers, many of whom are students and workers centered around the Cortex Innovation Community.

Still, there is a part of her that cannot help but feel a sense of sadness at the Cherokee restaurant's closing.

"We love Cherokee," Wong-Shackelford says. "Here I am getting tears in my eyes talking about it because it's getting closer. It's a bittersweet decision, but one that we had to make."

As for the forthcoming City Foundry location of Kalbi Taco Shack, Wong-Shackelford insists that there will be no changes to the fundamentals of the restaurant. Meats, marinades, accoutrements and tacos will all remain the same. Guests can expect the same tacos, bowls and burritos they've come to love at the Cherokee Street spot, though she notes that the menu will have to be more streamlined.

"We've been told that we need to do things fast because the college kids and people from Cortex will be coming in for lunch breaks," Wong-Shackelford explains. "We will probably need to minimize the menu and not have as much customization. We're still seeing what we can do about some of our more time-consuming items, like the banh mi and quesadillas."

Regarding her proximity to other eateries in the City Foundry development, Wong-Shackelord sees it as a plus. Rather than being intimidated by what many might see as competition, Wong-Shackelford believes that a vibrant, thriving development where everyone succeeds is good for each business.

"Others tell me that now I have competition," Wong-Shackelford says. "I tell them, no — that I welcome it. It will draw more people to come in and taste a little bit of everything. There will bee food from all different cultures. I'm excited to be a part of it."

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