When fast-casual fried chicken joint Fuku opened in Boston in late 2018, it was the first expansion into the city for restaurateur and television personality David Chang (Momofuku restaurants, Ugly Delicious, etc.) It was also one of many examples of out-of-town restaurant chains landing in Boston’s Seaport District, joining the likes of By Chloe, Luke’s Lobster, Sweetgreen, Shake Shack, way too many steakhouse chains, and more. To date, it’s Chang’s only Massachusetts restaurant; there’s a location of Christina Tosi’s bakery chain Milk Bar in Harvard Square, but while Milk Bar was born under the Momofuku umbrella, it is independently operated.
In June 2019, it looked like Boston was poised to get more Fuku locations as new CEO Alex Muñoz-Suarez was enthusiastic about the potential for expansion within East Coast cities like Boston, but that hasn’t come to pass. “In my mind I see Fuku as a gateway to all of Momofuku,” Muñoz-Suarez told Eater NY at the time. “I think our guests are a much more wider band of representation of America’s population than the guests you get in Ko or Ssäm Bar. I envision Fuku being the beginning of the introduction of who Dave Chang is and who Momofuku is.”
Fuku’s sole Boston location appears to have shut down early in the pandemic, based on sad Instagram comments posted by fans over the past few months wondering when it would reopen, but the closure is now permanent, with locations currently operating only in New York City, Florida, and D.C. and all traces of the Boston location scrubbed from the internet. A rep for Fuku confirms the news, stating that the Boston location and New York’s Wall Street location both closed in March and will not be reopening.
But it might not be the end: The company is reportedly expanding its reach via ghost kitchens thanks to a partnership with a company called Reef Neighborhood Kitchens. With Reef, Fuku quietly began appearing on delivery apps earlier this year in Portland, Oregon, and elsewhere, an under-the-radar move made without the fanfare that brick-and-mortar arrivals like the Boston opening got. Fuku, via Reef, could reportedly return to Boston in this delivery-only form at some point next year.
“For the past two years we’ve been part of the Boston community and our goal is to return soon so that we can continue to serve our many loyal customers via a delivery model,” Muñoz-Suarez said, via press release.
It’s certainly a sign of the pandemic times, although the proliferation of ghost kitchens — essentially virtual restaurants that operate as delivery-only businesses — is expected to continue well into the future, perhaps becoming a $1 trillion business by 2030.
Update, 11 a.m.: This story has been updated to include information provided by a rep for Fuku and a new quote from Muñoz-Suarez.
• Coverage of Fuku Boston on Eater [EBOS]
• Fuku in Boston’s Seaport District Has Closed; Could Return to Boston Via REEF Neighborhood Kitchen [BRT]
• Fuku’s National Expansion Plans Could Hinge on Ghost Kitchens [E]
• Ghost Kitchens Are the Wave of the Future. But Is That a Good Thing? [E]
Disclosure: David Chang is producing shows for Hulu in partnership with Vox Media Studios, part of Eater’s parent company, Vox Media. No Eater staff member is involved in the production of those shows, and this does not impact coverage on Eater.