Thursday, July 5, 2012

What's hot on Independence Avenue?

Posted By on Thu, Jul 5, 2012 at 3:07 PM

Spike Nguyen, owner of Pho Hoa in the historic Northeast, will soon have a deal for big eaters.
  • Spike Nguyen, owner of Pho Hoa in the historic Northeast, will soon have a deal for big eaters.

Independence Day was good for at least one Independence Avenue restaurant: Pho Hoa Vietnamese Restaurant at 1447 Independence Avenue. Owner Spike Nguyen put a sign on his front door the day before, stating that he would be open on July 4 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. "But people kept coming in, even after 2 p.m.," Nguyen says. "We didn't close until after 6 p.m."

Nguyen celebrated the first anniversary of his franchise venue last month by installing another air-conditioning unit. The hot weather, he says, is hurting his business, although his smoothie trade has increased to the point that he bought an industrial-strength snow-cone machine to provide enough crushed ice for his fruity concoctions.

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Nguyen has put plans to open his second Pho Hoa location on ice, as it were, for at least another eight months. He's focused right now on building business on Independence Avenue. He still has no signage facing Independence Avenue, and he's getting a new neighbor in the front half of the building. The awning announces the upcoming restaurant as the Capital Cafe. "It's going to be a Somalian restaurant," Nguyen says.

Next month, Spike Nguyen is introducing a new promotion: "The Spike Challenge."

Nguyen picks up one of four giant pottery pho bowls. The challenge, he says, is that one of the bowls will be filled with 2 pounds of meat and 2 pounds of noodles. Customers who can finish the dish in 45 minutes or less get the meal for free and a commemorative T-shirt. The runners-up can console themselves by purchasing a cold beer: Nguyen says he just got his beer and wine license.

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Mike Bushnell, the publisher of the Northeast News neighborhood newspaper, says "Everybody up here is gaga" over the news that a tenant has taken over the location of what had been the oldest standing Dairy Queen in Kansas City, Missouri. That's right, the iconic building at 2535 Independence Avenue that was operated for more than four decades by the historic Northeast's legendary Esther McMurray, she of the tallest beehive hairdo east of the Paseo. When the new tenant, an independent operator, Bushnell says, is finished renovating the interior, the business will reopen as Dairy Barn, serving ice cream and pizza.

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