For 11 years, Michael Ng has helped drive new restaurant and real estate investment on a particular block of Jackson Ward.
Now he’s headed across the river to Manchester on a similar mission.
Ng last month purchased 1303 Hull St., a two-story, 3,200-square-foot building that houses Send-a-Chef’s Ghetto Burger Restaurant.
The $206,000 purchase was Ng’s first in the Southside neighborhood. He’s eyeing additional properties, with a plan to attempt to replicate in Manchester the success he’s had in Jackson Ward in helping build a sort-of restaurant row along North 2nd Street between East Broad Street and East Marshall Street.
“It’s really become a restaurant row down there,” Ng said of North Second Street. “That was always the vision. Now, it’s time to carry that same concept to Manchester.”
Ng started on that block in Jackson Ward by running his Thai Cabin food carts and eventually his Thai Corner restaurant out of 325 N. Second St.
He now leases out that building to Korean restaurant J Kogi, and also owns 319 and 321 N. 2nd St., the latter of which is set to be occupied by Soul Taco as it replaces the short-lived Caribbean restaurant The Pot.
And last spring, he sold 315 and 317 N. Second St. for $400,000 each to Fairfax-based North Second LLC. The building houses Big Herm’s Kitchen and Fighting Fish – two restaurants Ng helped bring to the neighborhood.
While remaining bullish on Jackson Ward, Ng acknowledged that development opportunities are growing more scarce and expensive in the vicinity. That prompted him to look across the river to Manchester.
“It’s still not as developed as Jackson Ward,” Ng said of Manchester. “But it’s starting to get there, so now was the time for me to start looking for more deals in the neighborhood.”
His purchase of the 93-year-old Hull Street building closed Aug. 18. The seller was Bailey Sisters Property LLC.
The deal included the purchase of the lease of Ghetto Burger, which has been a part of the neighborhood’s dining scene for about eight years.
“The restaurant has a year on its lease,” Ng said. “We’re going to see how we can help each other.”
In the meantime, he’s hoping to secure more properties similar to 1303 Hull St. along the neighborhood’s primary commercial corridor.
“I want something that will lend itself to restaurant development,” Ng said.
Manchester already has had an influx of new restaurant development spill onto Hull Street.
Hot Diggity Donuts, backed by developers Michael Hild and Laura Dyer Hild of Church Hill Ventures, opened in late June at 1213 Hull St.
Other ventures the duo has in the works nearby include the Butterbean Market and Cafe, which remains under construction at 1204 Hull St., along with Dogtown Brewing Co. at 1209 Hull St.; and Manastoh Brewing in the old Bank of Commerce & Trust building at 1128 Hull St.
Anthony “A.J.” Brewer, owner of Brewer’s Cafe at the corner of Bainbridge and East 12th streets, is preparing to start work on Brewer’s Waffles at 1309 and 1311 Hull St. Work also is underway on Pig and Brew at 1313 Hull St.
Ng said that momentum makes it ideal for additional restaurant growth and further real estate investment.
“It all depends on whether I’m able to secure the types of the properties that make such a concept work there,” Ng said. “But I think it’s a concept that would work well for Manchester. It’s all a process, but they’re hungry for it, and I’m excited to see where this all goes.”