Wingin' it

New Korean fried chicken chain nests in troubled Central Austin location

New Korean fried chicken chain nests in troubled Central Austin spot

Left Wing Bar Austin
Left Wing Bar is opening its first U.S. restaurant in Austin. Left Wing Bar/ Facebook

After a series of shutters, Urban Outfitters’ Space 24 Twenty is once again getting back into the restaurant business. Korean fried chicken chain Left Wing Bar is set to roost at 2416 Guadalupe St. by late April or early May, according to a company rep.

Although the brand is practically unknown in the U.S., where the Google-defying name is as likely to pull up hits for political commentary as food, it operates 360 locations in Korea. Austin will be the first to arrive stateside, followed by a shop in San Jose, California.

Appropriately for the small space, the menu is kept simple. Six varieties of KFC are available, including original, sweet and spicy, house special, go-bachi (Korean chili barbecue), and khan-bachi (soy teriyaki barbecue). Beer and wine will be also be served.

Left Wing arrives on the Drag during a turbulent time for the campus-area market — and especially the Space 24 Twenty compound. Since its 2015 debut, the retail hub has suffered a series of closures. The original lineup of splashy casual eateries from celebrity chefs — Marc Vetri's Pizzeria Vetri and Michael Symon's Symon’s Burger Joint — both shuttered in June 2017.

Local hot dog purveyors Frank took over the Symon’s space in October 2017, but temporarily closed in summer 2018, promising to reopen when University of Texas students returned in the fall. It never did.

Korean food has been one of the few bright spots on the strip. K-Bop has been going strong since 2016, with a menu of beef bulgogi bowls, milk teas, and smoothies. And newcomer Kokodak, located two blocks away from Left, took over the former Rise Biscuit in January.

To help build up some buzz ahead of UT's spring break March 18-23, Left Wing Bar is holding a series of pop-ups. Hours are noon to 3 pm on March 13-14 and 11 am to 4 pm on March 15.