A new southeast Asian restaurant is coming to downtown Morganton and will receive some startup help from a city loan program.
At Monday night’s regularly scheduled meeting of the Morganton City Council, the board approved motions to enter into a $10,000 community development block grant loan agreement with and to approve a $10,000 Main Street Revolving Loan for Dara and Danil Phrakousonh, the owners of the upcoming Uptown Ramen restaurant, which will be located at 309 N. Green St.
The Phrakousonhs also are seeking a $40,000 loan from the Valdese Economic Development Investment Corporation, the city said.
According to information from the city, Uptown Ramen will offer moderately priced southeast Asian food including egg rolls, pad thai, fried rice, curry, homemade ramen bowls and rice bowls, papaya salad, pho, pan-fried fresh thick noodles, stir fry, Thai iced tea, coffee, bubble tea and local beer and wine.
“Our customers are our number one priority,” the Phrakousonhs said in their business description provided to the city. “Everyone will be welcomed at our business. Our food will be prepared fresh daily. (We want) to provide quality meals at reasonable prices with exemplary service. Our most important resources will be our family, friends and the community.”
There currently is no set opening date for Uptown Ramen, but the city’s Main Street Department is hopeful the restaurant may be ready for business by early next spring.
The Phrakousonhs were the previous owners/operators of the “very successful” Asian Fusion Kitchen in The Shoppes at Tannery Square, the city said, noting the Phrakousonhs’ restaurant business experience.
“As previous owners of Asian Fusion, we have gained an excellent knowledge of the Morganton-Burke County area and its citizens,” the Phrakousonhs said in their business description. “We have a firsthand knowledge of what customers expect and how to meet those expectations.
“We will apply this knowledge to sharpen our management of this venture with an anticipation we will be in business at this locations for many years to come.”
Information from the city also noted the North Green Street location, which formerly housed photographer Andy Hern’s Studio Graphics, as a “prime” spot since it sits on the same block as Fonta Flora Brewery and just across from the upcoming Marriott Fairfield Inn and Suites downtown hotel.
The restaurant’s operating hours for dine-in and takeout will be 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 4:30-9 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. It will be closed on Mondays. Uptown Ramen will occupy 1,780 square feet and seat approximately 50 customers.
According to the city, the Phrakousonhs hope to purchase a food truck if the restaurant does well in the near future.
CDBG funds are set aside by the city for the purpose of encouraging small businesses that meet U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development hiring guidelines, as well as the city’s Mission 2030 goals.
Those goals include entrepreneurial development, downtown revitalization and tourism enhancement. City staff recommended the loan to promote those goals.
The Main Street Revolving Loan program recently was created by city staff at the recommendation of the Main Street Advisory Board for the purpose of attracting new restaurants to downtown.
The advisory board says there is a special need to do so, especially with the upcoming opening of the downtown hotel. Funding of $130,000 was placed in the city’s 2019-20 budget for the program. The program’s review board recently discussed the Phrakousonhs’ requested loan, which will go toward the cost of kitchen equipment.