MINNEAPOLIS, Minnesota — A world famous Korean fried chicken restaurant chain is coming to St. Paul.
bb.q Chicken’s first Minnesota location opened at the end of last year, thanks to Emily Krouse.
Krouse is a Korean adoptee who grew up in Minnesota.
“I was reconnected with this brand because I met my biological mother eight years ago. I’m an adoptee and I don’t speak any Hangul and she doesn’t speak any English. But she did ask me what my favorite food was and I said fried chicken and this was the company that she happened to order. So I’ve always just had a really strong affinity towards the organization. Love the food but the particular company was something that I always had a strong place in my heart for,” Krouse said.
Years later, Krouse was on a girl’s trip in California when she randomly walked into a bb.q and it reminded her of her trip to South Korea.
“It was always in the back of my mind that, ‘Gosh, I would love to bring this brand to Minnesota.”
Krouse has more than 20 years of experience in the restaurant industry. She opened bb.q Chicken on Lake Street in Uptown in December 2022.
bb.q stands for “Best of the Best Quality.” The chain was founded in Seoul, South Korea in 1995.
“Korean fried chicken is known for its crispiness. So regardless of if you have a dry wing or a wet wing, you’re going to bite into something that’s extremely crave-able and crispy,” said Krouse.
All their chicken is fresh and gets marinated for up to 12 hours, then cooked in olive oil. They offer 14 different sauces.
“I was driving by and I just smelled it from the road and decided to come in and try it out,” said Tracy Knutson of Savage, adding that the food was “amazing.”
While chicken is the star of bb.q, the Uptown location is known for its K-food.
“So the side dishes have become the thing that people come in for. Something called ddeok-bokki, which is a rice cake that’s slow simmered in like a spicy sauce, sometimes sells out the chicken even though chicken is what we’re known for,” Krouse said.
Krouse has committed to opening three locations in Minnesota in three years. Her second location will open sometime in June on Grand Avenue in St. Paul. It will be located at the old Bap and Chicken restaurant. The owner is also a Korean adoptee.
“It was kind of a bittersweet transaction because the restaurant I’m taking over was owned and operated by one of my friends,” Krouse said.
Krouse said, realistically, it probably will not open until mid-June. Krouse hopes to open her third location in a first-ring suburb.
She added, “I think I’d like the community and people to know that even though this is a global franchise, I’m a small business owner.”
Know a local business we should feature for our Behind the Business segment? Email Heidi Wigdahl at email@example.com.
Watch all of the latest stories from Behind the Business in our YouTube playlist: