The owner of a Carytown restaurant has doubled her footprint in the neighborhood with the addition of a market across the street.
Earlier this month, Hang Pham opened Sen Organic Farmers Market in the former Cartwheels & Coffee space at 2820 W. Cary St. It’s directly across from Pham’s Sen Organic Small Plate restaurant, which opened in the former Dixie Donuts building in 2017.
Cartwheels & Coffee had operated in the space for over 10 years before it closed in January.
The new Sen market’s shelves are stocked with fresh produce, pottery and jarred sauces used at Sen’s restaurant. It also offers semi-prepared meals folks can finish cooking at home.
Sen spokeswoman Hannah Aronson said they opened the market as a way to introduce the area to aspects of Vietnamese culture beyond what’s offered at the restaurant.
“This idea of having a market really started to come to fruition throughout quarantine. Sharing more of the culture of Vietnam is something (Pham) talks about,” Aronson said. “You can come to the restaurant and eat here, but (the market) is to make it more accessible for someone who wants to prepare and eat Vietnamese food at home.”
For example, Sen’s market makes its own rice noodles in-house, which are available in takeout boxes with the sauces, proteins and veggies necessary to make pho.
“It’s kind of like instant ramen but it’s instant pho. It’s just definitely more fresh and organic,” Aronson said.
The market buys its produce like Thai basil and lemongrass from a lot of the same local farmers it uses for ingredients at the restaurant, but is looking to add more local suppliers. The market also has a coffee and sushi bar.
Sen is leasing the space. Tokyo Market, a Japanese grocer that’s in the building but whose door fronts Colonial Avenue, also expanded into part of Cartwheels and Coffee’s old space.
Sen Organic is the latest in a string of local restaurants to add a market to its offerings. Taqueria Don’t Look Back added a retail section to its Scott’s Addition location, and late last year the owners of Sabai converted Temple’s space at 2713 W. Broad St. into Sabai Jai Market.
Aronson said she thinks restaurants adding retail divisions will continue becoming a bigger part of the food industry.
“It’s certainly interesting to see,” she said. “In doing research, we looked at other places that are doing similar things and tried to figure out what would work best for us.”