Work on the site got underway in early January.
Zinc owner Vu Nguyen will be opening Charlottesville's first pho restaurant in May.
Pho, the hearty Vietnamese noodle soup filled with big chunks of beef or chicken and served with a side of bean sprouts, mint leaves, and basil that you add yourself, is hard to find in Charlottesville. Celebrity chef Peter Chang had a visiting chef prepare it once, Ten launched a "pop-up" pho restaurant, and Saigon Café has perhaps the best offerings, but we've yet to see a local place fully dedicated to the stuff– until now.
In mid-May, Zinc owner Vu Nguyen should be ready– he hopes– to open Moto Pho Co. in the newly renovated former auto service garage at 505 & 509 West Main Street, which is across the street just a tad to the west of Zinc. Formerly home to C&R Auto Service, the building was sold in 2010 to Main Street West LLC for $1.8 million. (Talk about appreciation– former building owner Wade Lee Crawford paid $42,500 for most of the property in 1974.)
The new pho place will join One Meatball Place as food anchors of the Main Street Market Annex, an across-the-street augmentation of the purple-painted cuisine collection featuring Feast! that opened ten years ago.
The architect is Greg Jackson. A Belmontian formerly with William McDonough + Partners, he oversaw the renovation of the buildings that house Tavola and The Local and now serves as president of the Belmont Neighborhood Association.
As for Nguyen, he says he's been experimenting with pho recipes, including vegetarian options, since last year, and even spent a couple of weeks last year in Vietnam to get some pointers from an aunt who runs a pho shop in the bustling coastal city of Nha Trang.
"It'll be a small 38-seat lunch and dinner place," says Nguyen. "We'll have a couple of other menu items such as garden rolls and edamame, but the main focus will be pho."