TELEGRAM: ‘Right time’ for new Japanese eatery in downtown Worcester

By Lisa Eckelbecker
Telegram & Gazette Staff

Posted Sep 4, 2019 at 11:05 AMUpdated Sep 4, 2019 at 5:40 PM  

WORCESTER — Two experienced restaurateurs expect to open Cha Shu Ramen + Izakaya, a Japanese-inspired restaurant, downtown in late fall.

Son Vo and Tam Le say the 5,000-square-foot space at 38 Franklin St. will include banquette seating on one side, a full bar on the other, an open kitchen at the back and a reservations-only chef’s table tucked behind the kitchen in a private room.

Both men have extensive experience in the restaurant industry. Mr. Vo is the restaurateur behind Kaizen in Sturbridge and Pho Sure in Shrewsbury. Mr. Le operates Pho Hoa restaurant and Reign Drink Lab in Boston, plus Pho Linh in Quincy.

The men said they decided to launch a restaurant downtown as they see Worcester evolving.

“It’s just the right time,” said Mr. Vo, who is also the restaurant’s executive chef. “The area is changing a lot. I see a lot of improvement.”

Mr. Le thinks his business partner has a good sense of what’s happening in Worcester.

“People keep talking about Worcester — Worcester’s becoming this and that,” Mr. Le said. “We just want to bring something new to add to Worcester’s growth.”

Cha Shu will feature dark décor and bright art — murals by graffiti artist Victor Quinonez and paintings by Aerosyn-Lex Mestrovic. The men said the menu will include ramen noodle dishes, small plate offerings known as izakaya, food grilled in the Japanese robata style, craft cocktails, saki and Japanese whiskey.

The restaurant will be open for lunch and dinner seven days a week, Mr. Le said. It will seat about 100 people and employ 35 to 40 workers.