For several months in 2011, Spike Nguyen had a sideline his wife Jessie knew nothing about.
He had worked as finance director for a Shawnee car dealership for 13 years before contracting with a Columbia, Mo., car dealership that wanted him to relocate permanently.
But he didn’t want to move his young family. So he came up with a plan.
Nguyen had long had a passion for Vietnamese cuisine and even trained with a chef when he was 21 with the idea of some day opening his own restaurant.
Never miss a local story.
Later he installed a commercial kitchen in his Shawnee home so he could whip up specialties for his friends and family on the weekends — anywhere from six to 25 people. A sign in the kitchen still says Spike’s Bar & Restaurant.
When the Columbia contract ended, he told his wife he was working on another project. She just assumed it was in finance. Instead he took over a restaurant space at 1447 Independence Ave. and spent several months remodeling the spot for a Pho’ Hoa Noodle Soup franchise.
“Jessie was shocked when I told her. She almost kicked me out of the house,” Nguyen says with a chuckle. “Things didn’t go smoothly the first year. We had to streamline our process and patiently wait for the customers. But now she loves it. She’s more motivated than I am and the one who pushed me to open a second location.”
They opened a Pho’ Hoa Noodle Soup in 2011. In April, they opened a second location, this one their own concept called iPho Tower Vietnamese-French Bistro at 3623 Broadway.
iPho, with a more contemporary decor and Vietna- mese/French fusion menu, has been so popular the couple decided to convert the Independence Avenue restaurant to the iPho concept. Menu items include rice plates, vermicelli, pho, and Banh Mi sandwiches. French fusion items include beef stew, shaken beef and pork and shrimp crepes.
The couple’s children Valerie, 17, and Nathan, 7, help out at the locations. While Valerie plans to be a dentist, Nathan is considering a career as an entrepreneur.
“He said, ‘Why did you open a second restaurant? Did you want to double your income?’ I was shocked and happy at the same time,” Nguyen said. “He is aware of his environment and picking up on that.”
An entertainment zone for kids in Platte City
Justin Barwick had long loved arcade games and even learned how to rehab vintage games for the “man cave” of his Platte City home.
But when his children wanted to go out for entertainment, he would have to drive them to Zona Rosa or the Legends Outlets in Kansas City, Kan.
“There’s really nothing for kids to do in Platte City,” he said.
So last October, Barwick partnered with Jared Stewart and Kyong Pak to open GCW Retro-Cade Arcade, a retro-style arcade parlor, in Platte City. But the site had less foot traffic than they liked, so they recently relocated the arcade to a higher traffic spot at 2409 N.W. Prairie View Road in Platte City.
Among the customer favorites are Time Crisis II, Tekken 3, Area 51, San Francisco Rush, Space Invaders and Pac-Man. But it also has Double Shot Basketball, Foosball, and pool tables.
The arcade also provides fuel for its patrons — barbecue rib sandwiches, cheeseburgers on a pretzel bun, bacon chicken club sandwich, cheesesteaks, ice cream and other snacks.
If the Platte City location takes off, the partners plan to open another GCW Retro-Cade Arcade in the Zona Rosa area.
To reach Joyce Smith, call 816-234-4692 or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter at JoyceKC