WESTBROOK — The proprietors of the former Pho Co., a Vietnamese and Asian cuisine restaurant in the Public Market House in Portland, have set their sights on a new opportunity on a heavily traveled road connecting the Maine Mall area to downtown.

Hoang Nguyen and his wife Chau Du have purchased 158 Spring St. in Westbrook where they intend to open Melting Pot Variety, which will offer Vietnamese, Thai and Chinese food along with traditional convenience store items. American Journal photo

Hoang Nguyen and his wife, Chau Du, have purchased Spring Street Variety at 158 Spring St. and will open as Melting Pot Variety within the next few weeks.

Nguyen said initially he wanted to name his new business Pho Co. Variety, but eventually settled on Melting Pot Variety.

“After thinking about the menu, we wanted to bring our food in, but also keep the traditional convenience store items: Italians, pizza, fried chicken. I thought with such a mix, Melting Pot should be our name. American is a melting pot and Westbrook is a smaller version of that,” he said.

The store will offer many of the items familiar to Pho Co. customers, including pho (Vietnamese beef noodle soup) and banh mi (a Vietnamese sandwich on baguette bread), as well as pad thai (stir-fried rice noodle dish), pineapple fried rice and Chinese appetizers such as dumplings and spring rolls. It will also offer drinks, coffee, smoothies and groceries.

Nguyen noticed the site on Feb. 3 when he and Du were traveling to a Super Bowl party in Gorham. After a bit of discussion, they decided they wanted to buy the store and open a new business there, he said.

“I see a lot of growth potential in Westbrook,” said Nguyen, who owns a rental property in Frenchtown, works in real estate and helped his wife run Pho Co., which was sold recently to other family members. It has since been renamed Pho Huong.

Amy and Gagan Singh had operated Spring Street Variety, which sold snacks and drinks, as well as pizza, fried chicken and sandwiches, since September 2017, but closed the operation earlier this year.

The Singhs also own Paul’s Variety in Biddeford and Paul’s Variety II in Old Orchard Beach, as well as Rama Oil in Biddeford.

Amy Singh told the American Journal in September 2017 that the couple wanted to branch out and try their hand operating a store with food service.

Gagan Singh said it ended up being “too much work,” and he sold the business and the building to Nguyen on April 5.

Nguyen said he is excited about the opening of the new business, which will join Pho Huong and Huong’s Vietnamese Restaurant on St. John Street in Portland as restaurants owned by his family members. He said his goal is to open as soon as he has the local permitting. Deputy City Clerk Ashley Rand said Melting Pot variety is still working through the inspection process with the code enforcement office and no opening date has been set.

The location has long been the site of a convenience store. Prior to Spring Street Variety, Arthur Agazarian operated Art’s Variety in the building for more than 40 years. He opened the location in 1972 and sold the store to the Singhs in 2017.

Michael Kelley can be contacted at 780-9106 or at:
[email protected]
Twitter @mkelleynews

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.