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Bul Box, new Asian grill restaurant, opens on West Franklin Street


Bul-Box Asian Grill sign is hung on Franklin Street on Wednesday, March 1, 2023.

Bul Box, a fast, casual Asian cuisine restaurant, opened its newest location on West Franklin Street on Monday, March 20.

Jaeyeon Kim, Bul Box's director of operations, described the restaurant as an “Asian Chipotle,” where you can order signature boxes named after cities like “Tokyo Box” or “Shanghai Box."  You can also create your own with chosen ingredients.

“We wanted to have it in a similar format as what people are used to, so in a rice bowl or a salad bowl kind of concept,” Kim said. “We wanted to give people the option to make their own bowls and see what kind of flavors they can create on their own as well with the ingredients that we have.”

The Franklin Street location is Bul Box’s seventh location. All of its locations are in North Carolina. Kim said the original Bul Box location was in downtown Raleigh, and that locations are intentionally placed near universities so that students have access to quality food.

Meredith Jolly, a junior at UNC, said that, as a student with a busy life, she appreciates the fast service and take-out nature of Bul Box. 

She said she is excited for Bul Box’s opening and that having affordable food options on Franklin Street is important to her.

“Since this is a campus where a lot of students don’t have the option to have a car, if we're having to go ahead and walk to get food — especially if dining hours are closed on campus — food should be affordable because college students have a hard time working and making their own money as well as doing schoolwork,” she said.

Kim said the menu at the Chapel Hill location will include unique items not available at other locations, including Japanese ramen, mac and cheese spring rolls and a chicken katsu sandwich.

She said the restaurant was supposed to open about five months ago, but construction was delayed because the building was very old and not up to date with current codes.

Kim said that the Chapel Hill Downtown Partnership, an organization that advocates for downtown Chapel Hill through marketing, business support and community building, has been helpful in getting the building up to code and assisting the restaurant in its preparations to open. 

Stephanie Cobert, the director of marketing for CHDP, said that she was excited about Bul Box’s opening, as well as other new businesses coming to Franklin Street, like Raising Cane's and Capriotti's Sandwich Shop.

“What we really love is we have this mix of old businesses and new businesses,” Cobert said. “We have businesses that have been downtown fixtures for years if not decades, and then we have newer faces that bring new concepts.”

Jolly said that while living near Franklin Street construction can be bothersome, she also appreciates the new businesses coming to downtown.

“I really like to see spaces being filled up, especially the main four over by TOPO (Top of the Hill), that’s just a lot of empty space, and filling it up would lead to better, not necessarily nightlife, but more social interactions and a busier downtown area,” Jolly said.

Cobert said new businesses help uplift the local economy and increase foot traffic of students, residents and visitors.

“A thriving downtown Chapel Hill is really a source of local pride, and that's what we want,” she said.


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