JACKSON TWP – The peculiar name – BIBIBOP – stood out when I spotted it on a roadside sign this past winter on a ski trip to Mad River Mountain.

It was an advertisement for an Asian eatery on a sign crowded with the names of other restaurants in the heavily developed Columbus area.

At the urging of my teenage daughter and college-age niece, we tried BIBIBOP Asian Grill. We loved it so much that it’s now a required stop on trips to Mad River. The Korean-inspired food was aromatic and deeply flavored, servings were generous, prices were affordable, options were abundant and the overall experience was unique in the restaurant scene.

Stark County residents can try out BIBIBOP later this year when the Columbus-based chain plans to open a restaurant at 4460 Belden Village St. NW in the Belden Corner Shops plaza near Belden Village Mall.

The site is near The Exchange and Robeks Fruit Smoothies & Healthy Eats.

BIBIBOP specializes in traditional Korean food in the build-your-own-bowl style popularized by Chipotle Mexican Grill and Piada Italian Street Food.

BIBIBOP announced its Stark County arrival with large, orange, company signs posted in the windows of the property, which most recently was the site of The Original Steaks and Hoagies before the eatery closed. Signs say BIBIBOP is coming soon and that it’s now hiring (applicants are directed to its website).

Robert Brown, director of operations for Stark County-based DeVille Developments, confirmed Monday that BIBIBOP will be leasing the 2,350-square-foot space at 4460 Belden Village St. NW.

“I think they’re working on their drawings for the interior renovations,” he said. “And we need to do some exterior renovations for them.”

DeVille has been working with BIBIBOP representatives for a few years in an effort to find a site, he said.

An employee in Jackson Township’s zoning office said Friday that permit requests related to renovation plans and signs had not been filed yet for the site.

Jason Whitt, marketing manager for BIBIBOP, said Tuesday the Stark County restaurant is expected to open before the end of the year.

Purple rice, organic tofu, kale, steak

Customers create their own bowl of food on a base of steamed rice (white or purple), Japchae noodles or supergreen salad. Protein options are chicken, spicy chicken, steak and organic tofu. Vegetables, including corn, kale, red cabbage and cucumbers, can be added, as well as potatoes, black beans, eggs, cheese and bean sprouts.

Sauces include gochujang, spicy siracha, sesame ginger, cucumber wasabi, yum yum and teriyaki.

Heading BIBIBOP is the Columbus-based GOSH Enterprises, a multi-brand restaurant company whose portfolio also includes Charleys Philly Steaks and Lennys Grill & Subs.

Started in 2013, BIBIBOP has around 40 sites, including a dozen locations in the Columbus area. Other locations include the Cincinnati, Cleveland, Toledo and Dayton areas.

The chain also has restaurants in Indiana, California, Washington, D.C., Maryland, Illinois, Missouri and Kansas.

The Canton-area BIBIBOP will be among 11 new sites planned this year, Whitt said.

BIBIBOP’s website says the restaurant chain’s story “began with a vision to bring the time-honored flavors and healthy ingredients of South Korea to Columbus, Ohio.”

“From that dream, BIBIBOP was born. Inspired by the traditional Korean dish bibimbap, we sought to make balanced and healthy Asian cuisine accessible and enjoyable to everyone.”

Who has the best burgers?

In honor of National Hamburger Month, The Canton Repository will be seeking out some of the most bodacious burgers in Stark County.

National Hamburger Month culminates with National Hamburger Day on May 28.

Far too many beastly burgers exist to include them all. So we are attempting to narrow it down to upper-tier burgers. The best of the best. Not the cheapest. And no bonus points for complimentary fries. Just bonafide … gotta tell your friends … mouthwatering and memorable … next-level meat masterpieces.

And given the subjective nature of burger judging, the newspaper is accepting reader suggestions to help us in our carnivore quest.

Nominations can be sent to [email protected], and messages can be left at 330-580-8315. 

Culver’s closing in on opening date

Site work is being finished on the Culver’s restaurant at 4896 Everhard Road NW, with plans for a late May or early June opening, said Ryan Lehar, operating partner.

Perkins Restaurant & Bakery formerly was at the site, but a new building has been constructed for Culver’s, a popular national restaurant chain known for its ButterBurgers and fresh custard.

“The construction process is still right on schedule,” Lehar said last week. “There’s no delays and everything is moving right along — it’s coming together.”

Curb and blacktop work was underway, he said. And the Perkins sign will be replaced with a blue-and-white Culver’s sign.

Restaurant equipment is scheduled to arrive and be installed by May 24, Lehar said.

Culver’s is based in Wisconsin, and the first restaurant opened in Sauk City in 1984; it now has eateries in more than 20 states with a concentration in the Midwest. The chain has several Ohio locations, including in Macedonia and Strongsville, and hundreds of restaurants overall.

Opening in Stark County is contingent on hiring enough employees, Lehar admitted.

“As it stands, we’re still shooting for the end of May or early June,” he said of the opening. “I’m sure it sounds like I’m echoing what a lot of other (restaurant operators are saying). It’s been tough — talent is at a premium right now.”

But “we feel confident right now (about opening)” in late May or early June, Lehar added.

Culver’s is hoping for a bare minimum of about 60 employees to open, he said.

Interviews are being conducted on-site for all positions, Lehar said. Applications also can be made online at https://www.culvers.com/careers.

Typically, a new Culver’s would have announced a grand opening date by now, he noted.

“But this year, with COVID and everything, we don’t want to give out a date until we figure out we have our staffing situation under control.”

Lehar has helped open five other Culver’s restaurants. 

“My father and I are both involved with the Avon and Strongsville locations and partner in the Sandusky (location),” he said.

“Once you get the doors open, that’s when the fun really starts … because you interact with guests and the community.”

Reach Ed at 330-580-8315 and [email protected]

On Twitter @ebalintREP

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