Accidental Asian fusion

Published in The Denton Record-Chronicle on Aug. 10, 2014

This fall, whether it’s after a late night of studying or a night on the town, University of North Texas students and Fry Street loyalists will have some new places to grab a bite and a pack of cigarettes.

Chai Tamprateep, owner of Mr. Chopsticks, is behind a small retail strip at the corner of Hickory and Welch streets featuring restaurants and a convenience store. Sushi Cafe, relocating from Oak Street, will fill Suite 100. Seoul Wings and Beer will fill Suite 101 and Viet Bites will open a second location in Suite 102.

The strip will also include a 3,000-square-foot convenience store, which Tamprateep said will be called C-101, and there is one more storefront available for lease.

The spaces for the restaurants are 75 percent complete inside, and he hopes they’ll be completed soon so the restaurants can start moving in and prepare to open later this year.

When Tamprateep started the project, he approached several businesses. He didn’t initially intend for all three restaurants to be Asian cuisine, he said.

“I approached them and that’s how it works. And actually the convenience store owner is Asian, it’s funny,” Tamprateep said.

Even though the theme of the tenants is similar to his own restaurant on Scripture Street, he’s not interested in moving because business owners shouldn’t have to compete with their landlord, he said.

Viet Bites is setting its grand-opening date for the first day of school, Aug. 25, but was planning a soft opening sometime this week. Co-owner James Trinh said he hopes everything will be in by next weekend.

Since the shopping center is right by UNT and nearby Fry Street bars, it will give Viet Bites a new market to tap. The original Viet Bites on South Elm Street opened in 2013.

“Everyone wants to be by Fry Street because that’s the top real estate location for restaurants in Denton where it’s not so hectic like [Loop] 288,” Trinh said. “Even people who work in the bars around there know us and love us and said it would be great to have us there.”

Trinh said Tamprateep worked with them along the way and he felt comfortable with him as a landlord.

Viet Bites’ Hickory Street location will offer a new concept, so diners can get different experiences at the two locations. It will be a fast-casual atmosphere, with less variety, so busy students can get in and out the door quickly.

“Right now we have a lot of space limitations, so sourcing it out to the new location, we can be more creative at the old location,” Trinh said. “I think people will even want to visit the old location more, so I’m not afraid.”

As far as competition goes, Sushi Cafe already has its own clientele, since the business is relocating from a nearby spot on Oak Street. Sushi Cafe’s owner is also opening Seoul Wings, whose menu, Trinh said, will be different and exciting.

“We’re not scared of competition but think it will make us strive to be better,” Trinh said. “It will get us to be innovative at times to keep up.”

ADAM SCHRADER can be reached at 940-566-6882 and via Twitter at @Schrader_Adam.

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