Almost a year in the works, Leland’s Indochine Express is slated to serve its first customers soon.
Situated next to the Walmart in Westgate Marketplace, the new Leland location will open in about three weeks according to Kathy Long, Indochine’s director of operations. With the capacity to seat 35 guests, the Leland eatery will be larger than other Indochine Express stores, Long said, and it will feature the same menu of roughly 30 Thai and Vietnamese dishes offered at other locations.
Indochine Express is a fast-casual spin-off of the original, enduringly popular Indochine at 7 Wayne Drive off Market Street in Wilmington, with a menu that borrows from Indochine top sellers including imperial pineapple rice, Pad Thai and Pad Ki Mao plus green, red and yellow Thai curries.
The opening will mark the fourth store in the new chain, which has grown rapidly since the brand launched in Monkey Junction in December 2020. Owner Solange “Niki” Thompson attributed the success of Indochine Express to its affordable prices and healthy, freshly made dishes.
“Even during inflation, people have to eat,” she said.
Although the Indochine Express restaurants offer quick service, the food is often prepared by hand with fresh ingredients, and Thompson emphasized that her dishes do not include MSG.
“I don’t want to lose the quality by buying frozen products,” Thompson said.
Thompson, who is of French-Vietnamese heritage, opened Indochine in 2000. After 20 successful years, she began to expand the business in 2020, and since then, she has added five new restaurants to her name: two Indochine Express locations in Wilmington, one in Southport and one in Leland plus Cafe Chinois, a sister restaurant to Indochine that serves French-Vietnamese fusion fare.
While the business has been gearing up to open the Leland eatery, Thompson said she is also working to tweak the menu at Cafe Chinois to add more Vietnamese dishes, which are already popular there, and launch a brunch service.
The business’s recent evolution is fueled by Thompson’s continued enjoyment of the work, she noted.
“I’m still having fun doing it. It’s something that I enjoy,” Thompson said.
She also credited the community for the support her ventures have received.
“They’ve always been faithful and loyal and good to my business and my brand,” Thompson said.
Thompson is considering sites for future expansion of the Indochine Express chain, but for now, the business is focused on opening the Leland store and ensuring the quality and efficiency of its existing eateries.
“Leland will be the only store opening in 2023 that we’re committed to right now,” Long said.
Leland’s Indochine Express, located at 1110 New Pointe Blvd., will be open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily.