A new concept is coming to Springfield as Empire Korean Steakhouse and Bar prepares to open Oct. 1.
Co-owner Kevin Huang said his father owns the real estate at 2100 W. White Oaks Dr., which was initially leased to TGI Fridays. The restaurant closed in March 2020 during the statewide stay-at-home order and never reopened. The space was then leased to Million’s Crab Boiled Seafood, a Cajun seafood chain based in Ohio, but that venture lasted less than a year before closing in December 2021.
“Million’s Crab wasn’t able to pay the bills after a couple months; my dad gave them some leeway, but it was bad for everyone involved,” said Huang. Once the building was vacant again, he and his father made the decision to relocate to Springfield from where they had been living in Georgia.
“I’ve been working at my family’s restaurants since I was a little kid,” said Huang. “Most recently, I had also been working part-time at a Korean restaurant in addition to my father’s business, and I really fell in love with the cuisine. I wanted to branch out from the Chinese and sushi that we’ve usually done.”
Huang said that Korean food has become very popular in larger metropolitan areas in recent years and he wanted to bring something new to the Springfield area. “I did my research and found a mentor, a Korean master barbecue chef,” he said.
Empire Korean Steakhouse will feature smokeless table-top grills and customers will have the option to cook their own food or have it prepared in front of them. “It’s different from a traditional serving experience, everything is freshly prepared at the grill,” said Huang. “It’s very customizable, with a lot of fresh side dishes, and then the soups and appetizers are prepared in the kitchen and brought out for customers to enjoy while their meal is cooking.”
The menu will include everything from traditional Korean cuisine to a variety of steaks. “We’ll also have a full bar, and a lot of Korean soju and sake,” said Huang.
Hours of operation will be Sunday-Thursday, 11:30 a.m.-10 p.m., and Friday and Saturday, 11:30 a.m.-11 p.m.