CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Sovan Bounthuy, middle, of Chez Sovan Cambodian Restaurant in Restaurant Row, with daughters, Laura Chum, left, and Kelly Nou.
Cambodian restaurant looking for new owner
The Restaurant Row eatery is up for sale with the cook's recipes
Chez Sovan Express at Restaurant Row is for sale. The Cambodian restaurant, which has served Honolulu's weekday lunch crowd for four years, is listed for $150,000.
Owner Sovan Boun Thuy, 66, said she is selling so she can retire.
"I cannot handle all of it," she said. "In January, February and March, business has been slow."
The restaurant was opened by Thuy's eldest daughter Kelly Nou following the success of two other Cambodian eateries she started in San Jose, Calif.
Thuy runs Chez Sovan now with her youngest daughter Laura Chum, 30, and Chum's husband, Edison Beltran. Lunch items range from the popular curry chicken to stir-fried vermicelli noodles and cost less than $10.
Thuy said she has had one interested buyer and that the business would benefit from an expansion into other Asian cuisine, such as the addition of a sushi bar. The sale price includes Thuy's recipes, furniture and equipment, said real estate agent Nora Bland of Sofos Realty Corp.
"I want people to keep my recipes because I know what people here like," Thuy said. "I can give them my recipes and they can add their food."
Rent and utilities at the 1,414-square-foot restaurant cost more than $7,000 a month. Thuy said she must decide this month whether to agree to a renewal of the restaurant's five-year leasehold agreement, which expires in May 2009. She said she wants to sell the business as soon as possible.
Thuy's son still owns her first Cambodian restaurant, opened in 1987 on Oakland Avenue in San Jose originally as a burger joint. She opened her second -- and much bigger -- location in the city's Campbell neighborhood in 1990 and sold it to a friend upon moving to Hawaii in 2005. All of Thuy's six children have worked in her restaurants, as well as her now-retired husband, Ytthan Chum, 68, who once served in the Cambodian air force.
Thuy, born in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, moved to Long Beach, Calif., in 1975 from Thailand. She then moved her family to Washington, D.C., followed by a move to Portland, Ore., and then San Jose.
"Maybe later my kids will take up my recipes again," she said.