Rival noodle shops. Rival brothers? Not really.
Sonny Kiatsuranon and his brother, Joe, grew up working at their family’s restaurant, Mom’s Siam. Later, Sonny left to start Fan Noodle Bar
, while Joe opened My Noodle & Bar
, which is also in the Fan. Confused? The Kiatsuranons were concerned about that.
“A lot of people found it confusing,” Joe says. “[They’d ask], ‘Why aren’t you joined together?’ We want to make it one place so that people don’t get lost.”
Actually, the brothers are creating two places that will be very different from one another. Fan Noodle Bar will merge with and move to My Noodle & Bar’s location via its menu, where you’ll find its dishes dotted throughout. For the space at 2301 W. Main St., the Kiatsuranons are trying something new.
Pik Nik will offer affordable, contemporary American food, says Alex Bailey, the bearded chef who’s done stints at Max’s on Broad, Patina Restaurant & Grill and lately, Shore Dog Cafe. “It’s going to be very eclectic. You’ll see a nice mix. … It’s not going to be your traditional Richmond restaurant concentrating on a certain genre.”
The interior design will be another dramatic departure from the former Fan Noodle. “People know my food,” says Joe. “I want them to see what else I can do.” The design, he says, is in his head. And he’s meticulously planned each day until opening on Sept. 17 — three days to put up a wall, three days to finish the patio and so on until he’s done.
The Kiatsuranons, Bailey and general manager Rob Smith took a trip to New York for some inspiration and to refine the concept. “What are you going to think about when you take a girl on a date?” he says. “We thought about a picnic in a park. We wanted to bring it into a restaurant.”
When I stopped by, a rustic wooden wall was going up inside and above it, the tin ceiling had been painted sky blue. Joe plans to have clouds painted across it, to underscore the outdoor, picnic vibe he’s looking for. Murals by artist Mickael Broth will finish the inside.
The front windows will roll up on nice days and a small bar — just inside the restaurant — will serve the patio. “We want it to feel like an old farm or park,” Joe says. He’s designed small picniclike tables made of distressed metal and dark wood that are surrounded by a shiny, corrugated steel wall and cross-hatched fencing.
After opening, Pik Nik will be in the hands of Smith and Bailey. Older brother Sonny says, “I cannot do it all.” Joe concurs. The younger brother also is co-owner of Sabai and YaYa’s Cookbook in the West End.
“[We’ve] always done Asian food,” he says about Pik Nik. “I wanted to do something different.”
Correction: Joe Kiatsuranon and his partner Brandon Pearson are not planning to open a second Sabai at this time. We regret the error.