Knowing your community and having a passion for what you do are two key ingredients to owning a successful business; this has been part of the recipe for success for Nail Envy owners Vee Truong and BeBe Cao. Drawing from that success, the duo will open Envy Bar & Grille at 205 S. Broadway in Portland later this year.
Truong says there’s nothing he enjoys more than cooking. Except maybe eating his own cooking.
“It took me 38 years to learn to cook well; now I want to share with everybody,” he said with a laugh. “You have to love to cook in order to be good at it!”
The concept for Envy Bar & Grille was borne out of years of visiting different types of restaurants in Nashville.
“I just had an idea and I am trying to put it into place,” he explained. “I thought it was a good idea. I wanted to do a place with music and a live band for people to enjoy while eating, so I put this concept together to make it into one. This will be more like an entertainment place to go. I didn’t want this to be just a sports bar and grill, but a place with a higher grade of food. This will be a family restaurant, too. People will see the food menu and realize this is a better grade of food with more fresh and healthy choices.”
And while owning one business is hard enough, he has the full support of his partner, BeBe Cao.
“BeBe really supports me,” he said of his longtime partner and girlfriend. “She said ‘Live your dream!’”
He explains his target crowd will be a dinner crowd who will come to dine and enjoy music.
“I have built a nice stage where bands can perform. I’ll have a deejay on deck with a system all setup — if you want to spin some records, get up there and do it. I’ll have karaoke set up, too, for those who want to sing and don’t have a band. I think everyone deserves a chance to perform. If you have the guts to get up there and perform, you can do that. If you think you can, I’ll give you a shot!”
The fare will be steakhouse foods, complete with fresh to-order meals, appetizers, and kid-friendly meals.
He especially wants this to be a place where older teenagers can go after school to enjoy hanging with friends and take advantage of the free WiFi.
In addition to a lounge area away from the stage, there will be a full-service bar for patrons over the age of 21.
“Right now we are waiting on the engineer to finish the drawings,” Truong said. “We hope to be open before the end of the year.”
Pitching Envy Bar & Grille to the City was no easy task, due to the lack of adequate parking for patrons, but Truong made a compelling argument that city leaders found themselves agreeing with.
“We went to the City and we talked about the parking lot problems,” Truong explained. “This property is part of Portland’s downtown. Nobody downtown has parking anyway and they do fine. People park near the gazebo and walk around, and it works. That’s why we took this property. If we don’t do invest in downtown, how can Portland grow? The City saw what I was thinking and agreed.
“If there’s public parking and it’s close enough, people will walk around.”
Truong and Cao are both Portland residents and the duo will continue to co-manage Nail Envy and Envy Bar & Grille.
“We’re just in the process of cleaning and remodeling now,” Truong added. “Hopefully this will be a good place where people can come, hang out, enjoy a bite to eat, and relax. Portland needs a place to hang out and relax.”