Pok Pok, the restaurant group known for its Thai street food and northern Thai cuisine, closed most of its locations earlier this year, with the expectation that the original location was on the SE Division and one The Pok Pok Wing can be reopened. However, Friday morning, owner Andy Ricker announced on Facebook that the restaurant group was done.
While Ricker cites the difficulty of running a business during a global pandemic as the main reason for the shutdown, he also describes the past five years as increasingly difficult to maintain high levels of hospitality. Ricker writes: “Pok Pok̵7;s ability to focus on specialty is becoming increasingly impossible and it’s becoming more and more logistical and extinguishing, less and less about hospitality and vision. He went on to say that Pok Pok has become exactly what it was never meant to be: profit and loss, and so he “pulls out”.
Ricker initially opened his first Pok Pok in 2005, specializing in Thai street food and northern Thai dishes he ate while traveling through Southeast Asia. Over the years, the restaurant has grown to a nationwide acclaim, winning the Ricker a James Beard award in 2011. The restaurant has become a popular tourist destination, especially for its sauce chicken wings. Pok Pok, based on a dish Ricker has eaten at a local counter in Vietnam; He developed the restaurant’s recipe with employee Ich “Ike” Truong. The outfits were popular enough that the restaurant owners opened the down-street Whiskey Soda Lounge, where locals would pass the wait of more than two hours at the original restaurant and serve them there; he went on to create a chain of fast food restaurants that served that dish. Whiskey Soda Lounge, as well as most of the Pok Pok Wing locations, closed in June. With the closure of the original Pok Pok and Portland’s last Pok Pok Wings, the restaurant group is gone.
• Room room [Official]• Notice of ending Pok Pok [Facebook]• Most of the Pok Pok Empire is closed [EPDX]