Pok Pok Noi, the Northeast Portland Pok Pok location serving a small menu of classics, will turn into a Pok Pok Wing. Thai restaurant mogul Andy Ricker announced on Instagram yesterday that the restaurant will transition into the popular wing chain’s first Northeast Portland location starting April 18.
Pok Pok Noi opened in a tiny bar-centric restaurant space eight years ago, serving what Eater PDX called a “Pok Pok Greatest Hits album”: dishes like Vietnamese wings, kai yaang, and khao soi. Pok Pok Wing’s Northeastern location will keep the restaurant’s liquor license, but the menu will change significantly; Pok Pok Wing is mainly focused on Pok Pok’s famous Vietnamese fish sauce wings, as well as mantou steamed bun sandwiches and various Thai-Chinese odds-and-ends. Ricker says the bar menu will shrink into drinks suitable for counter-service restaurants, including tap beers, bottled beers, and his famous Som cordials.
Ricker says the decision to open a Wing in Noi’s place made sense, considering the space and its history. “Noi was built as a counter-service restaurant and worked as a counter-service restaurant, but counter service wasn’t huge then... We thought we could open a counter service version of Pok Pok, but people weren’t down with it,” Ricker says. “The world has changed. Luckily, the restaurant is already built for that type of service.”
Ricker has been slowly expanding Pok Pok Wing over the last few months; the casual counter-service chain opened its second location in Southwest Portland this December. For him, the counter-service model works best in an oversaturated restaurant market with a shrinking labor pool. “The cost of management keeps going up, and our revenue is going down. There’s just not enough money floating around to keep everyone growing,” he says. “By doing this, we’re able to consolidate management, prep, and delivery, and we’re able to offer our most popular dish at a lower price.”
That change of price shouldn’t affect his current employees: Employees who want to stay have positions waiting for them, and he says both restaurants bring in the same amount of money. Wages begin at $15 per hour, and tips are shared with back-of-house and front-of-house employees. “The income inequality between front and back of house is coming to a head, and we want to be ahead of it,” he says.
• Pok Pok Wing [Official]
• Pok Pok Wing [Facebook]
• Restaurant transition announcement [Instagram]
• Andy Ricker’s Pok Pok Noi Set to Debut on NE Prescott Tomorrow [EPDX]
• The Latest Pok Pok Wing Just Opened in SW Portland [EPDX]