Could Frankfort Avenue become the Koreatown of Louisville?

5 Mar 2024
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CM Chicken of Louisville

Husband and wife Viet Tran and Soyoung Chon met while in the same degree program at University of Kentucky College of Pharmacy. "Some of the best memories that we made were of us cooking for each other and recreating our favorite childhood dishes, hers being Korean and mine Vietnamese," says Tran. Growing up in Korea, some of Chon's fondest memories are of "the vibrant street food scenes and eating Korean fried chicken and other favorites like tteokbokki and Korean corn dogs."

While there are Korean restaurants in Louisville that serve some of these dishes, each with their own flourish, Tran and Chon began to feel that to find truly authentic Korean fried chicken, they had to travel outside of Louisville. The couple has visited Atlanta and tried the CM Chicken there on several occasions. Everything about the experience—from the range of sauces to the distinctly Korean crunch—reminded Chon of her childhood in Korea. "One day we asked ourselves, why don't we just bring this experience to Louisville?"

Both Tran and Chon work as full-time pharmacists and thought it might be impossible to realize their shared dream of bringing Korean street food to Louisville, until they approached family and friends to propose a business partnership. Tran's childhood friend San Luu and brother-in-law Quyen Pham were immediately on board.

After searching the Highlands and St. Matthews "mainly because of the thriving culinary scene in those neighborhoods," Tran, Chon, and their partners were finally able to find a place on Frankfort Avenue, in the space that Comfy Cow once occupied. "The history of the building (and its infamous pink exterior)" as well as the diverse culinary offering along Frankfort Avenue practically made their decision form them.

CM Chicken is a franchise established in South Korea in 2009, so it was important to the partners to stay local with the designer, furniture maker, and muralist at the Louisville location. Along with their distinctly Korean-style fired chicken, they will be offering other Korean street food favorites like tteokbokki, savory pancakes, corn dogs, and patbingsu (shaved ice) along with a selection of beer and soju.

"We were also pleasantly surprised to see that Miki's Karaoke Bar and KIWA were also going to be our neighbors," Tran says. "Thoughts of our visits to Koreatown in bigger cities came into our heads and who knows, maybe Frankfort Avenue can be the Koreatown or Asiatown of Louisville."

Link: Could Frankfort Avenue become the Koreatown of Louisville?