Pok Pok Wing to land soon in SW Portland
World-famous Thai street food will soon be sold over the counter where burgers have been served for more than six decades on SW Barbur Boulevard,
Andy Ricker, award-winning head chef and owner of the Pok Pok restaurant empire, has t aken over the site of Humdinger Drive In at the intersection of Barbur and Capitol Hill Road next door to Tobacco Town.
Ricker took a very short break from working on gutting the interior of Humdingers to talk about his plans.
"We're going to turn it into a Pok Pok Wing, which is our counter service model. Yep, another one of those.Counter service, chicken wings, that kind of stuff."
HIs first two establishments in Portland on SE Division - Pok Pok and Whiskey Soda Lounge - have become shrines to Thai dining on SE Division. But he's no stranger to SW Portland.
"I had a girlfriend who lived up there," he said pointing toward the area behind Barbur Rentals. "We used to eat at Golden Touch and I've got friends who live over in Multnomah".
Golden Touch Family Restaurant across the street from the site of what will soon be his newest restaurant closed its doors just weeks after Humdingers
did so. The burger drive in had been run at that location since 1980 by Susie Reimer and her husband Gordon, both lifelong residents of the neighborhood. Neither was available for comment. Before it was Humdinger, it was a Dairy Queen and first started serving burgers in the fifties.
As for Ricker, he's personally handling much of the grunt work involved in overhauling the interior of Humdinger, long known for its colorful exterior and fast food dining values. Many of the long-time customers had their pictures on the walls in pre-selfie snap shots.
"(To open) before the new year is what we're hoping for. We emptied it out of all the stuff that's in there and now we're trying to figure
out what we have to do to get it into shape to serve food safely. So we're definitely thinking before the new year," he said.
"We're going to make affordable food and we're going to have a pretty robust delivery system. We use delivery apps so this location puts us into a place where we can cover the area around here for delivery. The restaurant itself is pretty tiny and we're not going to pack it in so we're going to have to have delivery." He plans to discontinue patio seating.
Ricker had seen Humdinger advertised for sale on Craigslist in September. He contacted the Reimers and the owner of the property and signed a five-year lease.
"We recently opened Pok Pok Wing in Northwest. We're open in Northeast. We're open in Southeast. So this is logical.
We've got a relatively well-known brand and I understand people don't want to necessarily travel across the city to get our stuff."
He recently closed Pok Pok restaurants in New York and Los Angeles. Pok Pok Wing will be different from the restaurants that brought him two James Beard awards, Portland Restaurant of the Year honors and appearances with his friend the late Anthony Bourdain on his series Parts Unknown
"This is our most affordable version. We're not an expensive restaurant to begin with and this is our counter service model. No table service. Just counter orders. When we open we will have a beer and wine license," he said.