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Wicker Park, Bucktown, West Town

TaKorea Cocina Closing Sunday After 3 Years In Ukrainian Village — But Entire Staff Hired At Nearby Restaurant

Owner Robert Magiet is joining The StopAlong restaurant in Bucktown as a managing partner. Magiet has organized numerous food drives and other initiatives with his nonprofit, West Town Feeds.

TaKorea Cocina, 1022 N. Western Ave., is closing Sunday after almost three years in business
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UKRAINIAN VILLAGE — Mexican-Korean fusion restaurant TaKorea Cocina will close Sunday after almost three years in business.

The restaurant at 1022 N. Western Ave. offers bulgogi steak tacos, kimchi burgers, rice bowls and more. Owner Robert Magiet, who has become known for charity work around the city, said the decision to close came down to ultimately not having enough business to support his family and staff.

“If you have a niche food like we have, it’s just hard to compete with other restaurants that are more mainstream, like pizzas and burgers,” Magiet said. “Like one thing that was hard for us to get were family orders on a weeknight, because not many kids want to eat a Korean-flavored burrito, whereas every child will eat burgers or fries or pizza.”

But Magiet isn’t going too far. He’s joining Bucktown restaurant The StopAlong, 1812 N. Milwaukee Ave., as a managing partner. He’ll help oversee menu development and catering, among other responsibilities.

And Magiet said his entire staff at TaKorea are coming with him to work at StopAlong.

Magiet will continue his charitable work through his nonprofit, West Town Feeds, which he started a few years ago to provide food, toys and other necessities to neighbors in need.

During the pandemic, Magiet delivered thousands of free meals to neighbors and regularly bought dozens of tamales from struggling street vendors, taking the food to homeless encampments.

“Everything that I was doing with TaKorea will continue with StopAlong as far as, you know, helping provide single mothers with pizzas for their children, and things like that. That’s going to all continue,” he said.

Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
Robert Magiet, local father and restaurateur, serves as a volunteer crossing guard at the busy intersection of Chicago and Campbell avenues in Ukrainian Village on Nov. 4, 2021.

Magiet said his experiences through West Town Feeds inspired him to get more involved in the community the past three years. He serves on park advisory councils and has become a fixture at neighborhood association meetings.

Last fall, Magiet even stepped in as a volunteer crossing guard at Chicago and Campbell avenues after hearing reports of people almost getting hit by cars at the busy intersection.

Magiet’s activism led Chicago Public Schools to temporarily assign a crossing guard to the intersection, which is about a block south of Chopin Elementary School, 2450 W. Rice St.

Credit: Quinn Myers/Block Club Chicago
Robert Magiet gives new crossing guard JonTisha Wilson a few pointers at the intersection of Campbell and Chicago in Ukrainian Village on Nov. 9, 2021

TaKorea is the second restaurant on the 1000 block of North Western Avenue to close this month. Last week, Jeff & Judes deli shut down after almost two years in the neighborhood, also citing financial difficulties.

Magiet said he doesn’t think it’s the location that hurt his business as much as the kind of food he was selling. But he has been vocal about the damage delivery app fees from companies like UberEats and Grubhub have had on his bottom line.

“Just last year, we paid $93,000 in third-party app fees alone,” Magiet told the Sun-Times in April. “We hope to make a 20 percent profit on a given year — that is sort of the rule of thumb — but when half your orders are coming from third-party apps and they are taking 30 percent of each order, then we aren’t making any profit.”

Magiet said the decision to close Takorea is bittersweet. H his four kids have made the restaurant their own since he opened in 2019, drawing pictures on the walls and hosting lemonade stands, he said. But he’s also excited for his next chapter.

“Even in the short term, it’s definitely a good move for my family and will definitely give me more opportunity to provide for my family, which ultimately at the end of the day is what’s really important,” he said.

TaKorea will be closed Saturday before reopening 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Sunday for its final day.

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