Though he often flies under the radar, restaurateur JW Lee is one of the busiest hospitality pros in the Denver area. Currently, he operates fifteen establishments, including two of our picks for the 100 Denver restaurants we can’t live without for 2022 (Seoul K-BBQ & Hot Pot and Seoul ManDoo). In 2021, he brought New York City-born Korean fried chicken concept Mono Mono to Denver; it landed on our ten best chicken wings list and quickly expanded to two locations — one in LoDo and one in Congress Park. Now he’s adding a third in 2022, in a Lafayette location that just happened to come with brewing equipment.
“We’re going to end up exploring some more brewery business, hopefully by mid-summer,” Lee says.
A fourth Mono Mono in Boulder is a possibility, too, but the labor shortage is one hurdle Lee will have to get over to make his many 2022 plans a reality. “My daily pains are day-to-day operations for staff,” he admits. But despite that challenge, getting into beer isn’t the only thing on his radar. Lee is also planning to open another Seoul Korean BBQ in Colorado Springs — which will be the first with tabletop grills in that city — as well as a new Korean BBQ outpost in Aurora that will use cast iron for cooking. “It’s a more traditional way to eat meat, and it holds so much more heat,” he explains. Lee also has exclusive franchise rights to open more Mochinut locations in Colorado, and hopes to add more of the mochi doughnut shops soon.
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