On many weekdays during the school year, starting around 11 a.m., you can find a line forming around the corner outside of Seoul Grill in the Old Capitol Mall. It’s a ritual and an attestation to the food. Patrons of all ages from the world over pack the mall’s food court area during the short window between 11:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. for bibimbap, bulkoki, japchae, spicy squid and other staples from the Korean Peninsula.
But that’s about to change.
Seoul Grill is extending its hours of operation. The previously lunch-only Korean restaurant will now stay open from 11:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, and from 11:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. on Saturdays. The restaurant will be closed on Sundays.
Seoul Grill has become a landmark of Iowa City eateries, if not just for the food but the spectacle. There is almost always a wait, a line with a dozen ahead of you. Its food is true to its origins, served without gastriques or microgreens. Despite a very small online presence, the restaurant’s reputation remains, passed on by word of mouth.
For years now the restaurant has operated for only 22 and a half hours a week managing to keep its storefront in the mall (often with breaks in operation during the university breaks). But now customers can enjoy Korean comfort food beyond the lunchtime mad-dash, for late lunches and dinner.
The owners requested not to be interviewed for this article.