The rumor that Lon Symensma, chef and co-owner of ChoLon Modern Asian Bistro, has a noodle shop in the works has been swirling for months. Now it’s official: On Wednesday, Symensma signed a lease for Cho77 at 42 South Broadway, right next door to Beatrice & Woodsley. The 2,000 square-foot eatery, which Symensma hopes to have open before the holidays, will reflect his travels to southeast Asia. In fact, he and Cho77’s chef de cuisine Ryan Gorby leave next month for Vietnam, Malaysia, and Thailand to research dishes for the restaurant’s menu.
In addition, Symensma hopes to ship cookware, plates, and other items back to Denver for Cho77’s decor. “I want it to feel like [southeast Asia’s] street food noodle bar scene,” he says. “There will be good energy, and it’ll be fun.” The noodle shop should fit right into the bustle of South Broadway, a neighborhood that Symensma says reminds him of Brooklyn.
The name Cho77 is a play on the standard pho shop tag (think Pho 79, Pho 95, Pho 96), the number of which corresponds to the year the family immigrated here. Having grown up in this country, Symensma used his birthday (1977) instead. Furthermore, “double sevens are very lucky in Asian cultures,” he explains. “And ‘Cho’ looks like ‘Pho’ so we cross-market ChoLon.”
“Cho77 will be all the things we can’t do in an elegant dining environment,” Symensma says. “With ChoLon, we’re limited in what we can do because it has to be easy to serve family-style and eat with a fork and a spoon.” Cho77’s offerings won’t be traditional, instead expect riffs on customary cuisine in the form of five to six noodle dishes, a very small dim-sum program (no time-consuming soup dumplings), and buns. Symensma is applying for a full liquor license but expects to serve mostly wine, beer, and sake.
“I’m excited to grow,” Symensma says. “When I moved out here, I wanted to be a multiple restaurant owner. I wanted them all to be different—and I wanted to be always pushing to have one of the better respected restaurants in that category.”
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