Combining ‘Drunken Noodle’ and ‘Little Bangkok’ is a Bad Idea

I’m a little worried.

Dave Scheer, the co-owner of Little Bangkok and Drunken Noodle in East Grand Forks, says the two restaurants will soon be combined into one, in the Drunken Noodle location (the former Applebee’s location) right along the river in EGF.

Scheer told the Grand Forks Herald: “The Drunken Noodle space isn’t being used very well… The college crowd didn’t find us as attractive as we thought they would.”

According to the article, the restaurants will be combined in the early part of next year.

A sushi bar is set to be put into the stage area in the Drunken Noodle this Wednesday, so the restaurant will be closed for about a week. Call ahead to check if it’s open over the next week and a half.

To me, this is a terrible idea.

The plan Scheer and co-owner Thamrong “Keng” Dechawuth had is a good one: Bangkok is a bit more up-scale in a modern and chic setting, while Noodle is cheaper, with (obviously) more noodle dishes aimed at a younger crowd.

But would you want to go to a restaurant that is actually two different restaurants, ordering off of two different menus? It just seems to me to be diluting the identities of the two restaurants, mostly Little Bangkok, which has been pretty successful.

But Drunken Noodle, on the other hand, has struggled. Along with other restaurants competing around town like Shing Ya and Fuji in Grand Forks, Drunken Noodle and Little Bangkok are pretty much competing against each other, and just a few blocks away too. Maybe Scheer and Dechawuth read the market wrong and there just isn’t demand for another Asian restaurant.

Perhaps a better option would be to keep the successful Little Bangkok in place at its current location and call it quits with Drunken Noodle, rather than sacrificing Bangkok to try to save Noodle.

I sincerely hope this doesn’t doom both places.

We’ll see.

10 thoughts on “Combining ‘Drunken Noodle’ and ‘Little Bangkok’ is a Bad Idea

  1. No wonder Drunken Noodle is not popular with customers. We visited the place shortly after its opening and the food was not good. Needless to say, we are not returning there again. This is saying something because Little Bangkok’s food is merely mediocre, but in the absence of better alternatives it will do.

  2. I’ve always thought it was odd that someone would open two similar restaurants in a close proximity. You’re naturally competing against yourself (as well as everyone else).

    I agree with your assessment. Cut your losses on the Noodle and keep a good thing going at Little Bangkok in its current location.

  3. We like Bangkok and visit frequently, but were also amazingly disappointed with Drunken Noodle. The food is not good. I was so excited at the prospect for good pho, but the (meatball beef-only selection) pho was not good. I would eat the heck out of some chicken pho with good broth, lime, sprouts, basil, and pepper. The existing menu mix is all over the place and even the decent food is inconsistent in quality. I have had the pad thai a few times and the noodles were an overcooked clump. I prefer the ambiance at Bangkok. I want these businesses to survive, and love to have some food variety in town, but they need to step it up a bit if they want their noodles to work. Maybe it’s better to really be a Vietnamese noodle house and not try to be everything to all people (with spaghetti, etc).

    • Thanks for the comment, Melanie!
      It’s odd that there would be such differences in food quality between two restaurants owned by the same people. Even further, I’ve had some really great grilled chicken pho at Cafe 21 in Fargo, which is also owned by the same people as Bangkok and Noodle. I think it comes down to the management of each place and the workers on that given day.

  4. I don’t really find it odd at all for them to combine these two restaurants. Have you been to Wasabi/Drunken Noodle in Fargo? It seems to work there. Same owners, same concept. You can order off either menu in the dining room, or if you just want to grab some noodles to go, you order at the counter.

  5. I LOVE Little Bangkok and cannot live without it. If I had to give up the Drunken Noodle, not a big issue. I do love my drunken noodles and bamee gaeng. But we had some really terrible service there. I don’t know who the waiter was but I’ve seen him at both places and he needs to get into a different field of work. Gave us a bad ‘taste’ for the Noodle. Everything has always been stellar about Bangkok. I’m hoping this combo doesn’t hurt that reputation.

  6. I think the space for Drunken Noodle is not the right fit. What a waste of a great patio in the EGF boardwalk for an Asian restaurant! No one says “Let’s go grab a beer and some Asian appetizers out on the patio!”

  7. I used to like Little Bangkok, but I feel their quality has slipped as their prices have increased. I will not be dining at the new location. I imagine that the move will eventually deep-six both restaurants.

  8. I do not feel strange at all for them to combine these two restaurants. It seems to work there. Same owners, same concept. You can order from either menu in the dining room, you order at the counter.

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