Kuma's Asian Bistro holds ribbon cutting ceremony

StoryImage( ‘/Images/Story//Auto-img-115885851726263.jpg’, ‘Photo by Jim Hagerty’, ‘Kuma’s, whose menu is a blend of Korean, Thai, Japanese and Chinese cuisine, opened in May, and has quickly become a popular eatery.’);
StoryImage( ‘/Images/Story//Auto-img-115885857122586.jpg’, ‘Photo by Jim Hagerty’, ‘Kuma Kim (right, with scissors) is joined by members of the Rockford Area Chamber of Commerce, the River District Association and the City of Rockford in cutting the ribbon on her new business Sept. 12.’);

Kuma’s Asian Bistro is now officially part of Rockford’s downtown dining community.

Sept. 12, during a ribbon-cutting ceremony, Rockford Chamber of Commerce staff, River District representatives, city officials and the restaurant’s employees were on hand to help owner Kuma Kim dedicate the establishment.

Before the ribbon was cut, supporters stressed their excitement at the arrival of Kuma’s. In a brief speech, Rockford Ald. Doug Mark (R-3) spoke on behalf of the city, welcoming the bistro to town.

Mark said, “We’re not only glad we’ve found you, but we’re glad you found us.”

Kim agreed, saying since moving from the Chicago area she’s found the people in Rockford to be very welcoming. She and her financé, Fred Savet, who also helps run the restaurant, moved from Arlington Heights in 2005, when they began restoring the historic building at 420 E. State St.

Kim said: “The people in Rockford are much more friendly, and they appreciate what we have here.”

She and Savet also live in the building and have been enjoying the elevated view of the city from their upstairs apartment.

Kim said: “I could see the Fourth of July fireworks from my living room. It is very nice living downtown.”

Along with owning the bistro, Kim also takes on the role of executive chef. With 15 years of experience, she’s worked in Chicago, New York and Alaska.

Kuma’s, whose menu is a blend of Korean, Thai, Japanese and Chinese cuisine, opened in May, and has quickly become a popular eatery. The entrée selection is quite extensive, and ranges in price from $6.75 to $12.50. According to Kim, whose motto is

“Tasty Food, Excellent Service and Memorable Experience,” she’s striving to offer the best food in town, without a hefty price tag.

“(Our menu) is fresh, tasty, healthy and the price is right,” she said, noting that she makes all sauces and dressings in house and does not use MSG.

The dining room has an elegant inner-city look, with detailed woodwork and contemporary light fixtures, which were cleverly designed and created by Savet, using metal salad bowls. The bar, although small and intimate, offers a full line of wine, beer and Sake. To accommodate customers who smoke and enjoy outdoor dining, Kuma’s also offers seating in its outdoor patio. Although Kim is happy with her choice to open her business in downtown, she said she is hopeful retail outlets will also find homes in the River District.

Kim said: “I would like to see more retail down here. That way, people wouldn’t have to do (their) shopping on the east side and then come downtown to eat. It (the lack of retail) hasn’t hurt my business at all, but it would make it better for everyone.”

Kuma’s joins a host of new downtown attractions that are quickly adding to the city’s entertainment flare. Formerly Bacchus, Brio Restaurant, Wine Bar and Patio is becoming well known for its wines, unique Tapas-based menu and music. On Labor Day Weekend, Brio owner Paul Sletten trucked in 28 tons of sand and hosted an “Urban Beach Party,” with a Tiki bar, full outdoor menu and live bands. As with Brio, Fuzion Studios, a unique, upscale body-piercing, tattoo, hair and nail salon, is also thriving along the downtown corridor.

Kuma’s Asian Bistro offers a takeout menu and is open Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-9 p.m.; Friday, 11 a.m.-9:30 p.m.; and for dinner only Saturday, 4-9 p.m. More information about the restaurant can be found on the Web at www.kumas-asian-bistro.com or by calling 490-1000.

From the Sept. 20-26, 2006, issue

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