Solange “Niki” Thompson, owner of Indochine and Indochine Express, has announced plans for a new Asian-fusion concept, Café Chinois.
The Wilmington restaurant will be located in the space formerly occupied by Southern Thai at Fulton Station off South 17th Street.
Thompson said that late last year, several Southern Thai employees came to work for her at Indochine Express because Southern Thai was not open for lunch and they were looking for lunchtime work.
After several of them made a permanent move to working for Thompson full-time, the owners of Southern Thai asked if she was interested in purchasing the restaurant.
“It was a win-win situation for everyone,” Niki Thompson said. “The staff is happy, I’m happy, and I’m always excited to bring something new to Wilmington.”
Thompson said the restaurant will feature dishes from Thailand, Vietnam, Korea and China.
While she would not describe it as upscale, she said it will be simple and elegant, featuring dishes such as Chinese roast duck and fried fish with ginger sauce, Bahn Xeo (Vietnamese crepes) and several popular Korean dishes.
“I like to think of it as where food meets art and art meets food,” Thompson said.
The restaurant will serve both lunch and dinner. Café Chinois will also carry a selection of fine teas imported from Asia, as well as desserts.
“It will be a nice place that you can come in the afternoon for tea and a piece of cake,” Thompson said.
But customers are not likely to find Indochine’s famous coconut cake on the menu. Thompson said the menu at Café Chinois will not feature menu items offered at Indochine or Indochine Express, but focus on other Southeast Asian specialties.
There will be Pho on the menu, however, a comfort food that Thompson said is quickly growing in popularity in the Port City. She will also offer some of Southern Thai’s most popular dishes so that their loyal customers will still have access to their favorites.
The restaurant is currently being revamped to give it a new look, which will include outdoor patio seating. The restaurant will seat about 25 inside and another 15 on the patio, and reservations will be accepted.
Thompson said she has consulted her feng shui calendar and the best day for opening looks to be either March 29 or 31, so she is hopeful that she will be able to open on one of those dates.
She credits her loyal staff with making it possible for her to take on new challenges and said she is eager to further share her love of Asian cuisine with her adopted city.
Café Chinois will be located at 3715 Patriot Way.