Xiaolongkan Hot Pot Resumes Development After Long Delay

The iconic Won Kow finally has a worthy replacement.
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The past few years have not been easy for Chicago Restaurants. When the legendary Won Kow restaurant shut its doors in Chinatown in 2019, it was set to be replaced by a brand new restaurant, but the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic put those plans to a halt and the space has remained vacant ever since.

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Thankfully, now that restrictions are easing up and life seems to be returning to general normalcy, those plans are once again being revived. Xiaolongkan Hot Pot is an incredibly popular Hot Pot chain based out of China that has recently begun expansion into the US. Founded in 2014, the chain is much better known abroad, where it boats over 800 locations in China, Singapore, Canada, New Zealand, and Australia.

The brand has been steadily expanding stateside and in 2019 they launched their first US outpost in LA. In 2020, the chain announced plans to open up a branch in Chicago, where it was intended to replace the iconic Won Kow at 2237 S Wentworth Avenue. As one of the first Chinese restaurants in the city, Won Kow was a Chicago landmark for over 90 years. Founded in 1927, the restaurant survived prohibition and was even alleged to be a favorite of Al Capone himself. The loss of such a legendary and historic restaurant was a serious blow to the neighborhood, but the story brightened when Xiaolongkan announced their plans to acquire the space in 2020.

Sadly, the joy was short-lived as the Covid-19 pandemic began to break out in the city. Xiaolongkan appeared to put its development on indefinite hold and has remained silent ever since. Now though, What Now Chicago has confirmed with owner Tony Hu that plans for Xiaolongkan are back on track and that the restaurant is once again gearing up to develop the former Won Kow space.

Chef Tony Hu is the owner of Tony Gourmet Group and is one of the most influential community leaders working in Chicago today. Sometimes referred to as the “unofficial mayor of Chinatown,” Tony’s Gourmet Group houses such iconic restaurants as Lao Sze Chuan, Lao Beijing, and Lao Shanghai. Rated as one of the best Chinese restaurants in Chicago, Lao Sze Chuan has even earned a coveted Bib Gourmand from Michelin’s red guide.

In a phone call with What Now Chicago, Chef Tony revealed that the initial plans for Xiaolongkan were halted by the pandemic’s impact on international trade. Unable to import the necessary items for his new restaurant, Tony placed development on hold until he could properly source the ingredients he needed. Now that restaurants appear to be returning to business as usual, Tony hopes that he and his team will be able to open Xiaolongkan by summer.

Jake Rogers

Jake Rogers is an author and playwright based out of Brooklyn, New York. A lively performer who is deeply passionate about history and literature, outside of his reporting he also produces short films and plays with his theatre troupe, the LSTC. He is currently producing a web series about a butterfly and moth who are roommates that will be released later in the year.
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