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Following on his Michelin-starred Hell’s Kitchen hits Kochi and Mari, chef Sungchul Shim is bringing his firepower to 8th Avenue with GUI — a new steakhouse which will take over the location of the Staples store that shuttered during the pandemic. “Just signed a new lease today — let’s start again together!” Shim posted, hailing the nascent eatery.
Shim told W42ST that he had just signed the contract for the new space at 8th Avenue between W47th and W48th Street to house GUI — which means grill in Korean. The steakhouse will have a “Korean menu format” but will not feature the tableside grill of barbecue restaurants from the region. Shim added that while building plans for the project had just begun, he hopes to open in late fall 2023 or early 2024.
Shim will team up with longtime collaborators Jooyoung Yang, who manages Kochi, chef Byeongseok Lee of Kochi and sommelier Robert Longo who previously built the well-regarded beverage program at Mari and Kochi.
It’s been a meteoric rise for Shim, who began his New York restaurant career at Le Bernardin, Per Se, Morimoto and Neta before branching out to launch Kochi in 2019 and Mari in 2021. Both are omakase restaurants — Kochi built on a nine-course tasting menu of skewered delights and Mari on an 11-course feast of signature hand rolls — and they garnered Michelin stars in their first few years of business.
Shim achieved the rare distinction of gaining a Michelin star for two separate restaurants in two years: Kochi in May 2021, and Mari in October this year. Kochi’s award was particularly meaningful to Shim, who reflected on Instagram that stewarding the restaurant through the pandemic to a culinary award was a gift in itself. “I am incredibly honored to be given a Michelin star today,” Shim in the post.
“I started cooking back in 1999 and came to New York to experience everything related to the restaurant industry in the Big Apple. Kochi opened towards the end of 2019 and after a couple of months of operation, we experienced this historically difficult period and through the pandemic our team came together and made it.”
Now, with successful tenures at Kochi and Mari under his belt, the acclaimed chef will tackle his largest space yet — the multi-floor Staples that closed in March of 2021. And while those looking for a quick photocopy may be disappointed in the news, it’s likely that Chef Shim and GUI will receive significantly better reviews than the Midtown print center’s “abysmal customer service” and “horrible hours.”
But until GUI opens its doors, fans of the chef’s curated cuisine can always stop by Mari (679 9th Avenue between W46 and W47th Street) and Kochi (652 10th Avenue – corner of W46th Street) for a bite to hold them over!