Kat Lim landed her first-choice location for her first restaurant.
The owner of Kano Noodle Bar, which debuted Aug. 17., at 227 Summer St., cited the appeal of downtown Stamford in her decision to open at the site of the former Moroccan eatery The Fez. While the city center has seen many changes to its restaurant sector in the past year, dining corridors like Summer Street remain perennial draws for new ventures.
“I always wanted to open a restaurant in Stamford, and Summer Street was at the top of my list,” Lim said in an interview this week. “When my realtor told me about this place, I had to jump on it. It’s a great location.”
Kano’s menu represents a mix of cuisine from Lim’s native Thailand, as well as influences from Vietnam and Japan. Dishes include noodle soups and bowls, rice and fried rice dishes, and a drinks list featuring beer, bubble tea, cocktails, sake and red and white wines.
“I try to bring all the best dishes that are Asian to my restaurant,” Lim said. “I make sure everything is good for everyone, including working people and families.”
The restaurant’s name — the first four letters of Lim’s given name, Kanokrat — and décor allude to Lim’s native Thailand. Hand-made bamboo baskets from Thailand hang from the ceiling, while the crockery includes hand-printed bowls imported from the same country.
Kano employs seven. The door to the kitchen in the approximately 1,700-square-foot establishment is intentionally kept open.
“It’s good to be able to see into the kitchen, so you can see what’s going on,” said project manager Simon White.
A Wilton resident, Lim said she was inspired to open Kano by her late mother, who was a chef and restaurateur in Thailand. Lim had previously worked as a server in several restaurants in Manhattan and at Thai Spice in Norwalk. She moved to the U.S. 15 years ago, at the age of 28.
“I wanted to open this restaurant for her,” Lim said.
The arrival of Kano reflects the ongoing changes to the roster of downtown restaurants.
Closings this year in the central business district include Layla’s Falafel at 245 Main St., Aria Restaurant at 1033 Washington Blvd., Aguapanelas at 84 W. Park Place, California Pizza Kitchen at 230 Tresser Blvd., and Del Frisco’s Grille at 101 Broad St.
The Fez closed last December at 227 Summer St., after a seven-year run.
“Stamford is evolving in a great and positive direction, and the customer base has become more urban and younger,” Fez co-owner Fred Laist said in an interview last December. “But running a restaurant is not for the meek of heart; we kind of miss our family. We’ve been doing this for a while, and we need a break.”
But a series of openings have offset the departures. New restaurants this year include Factory Bar & Grill at 261 Main St.; Teena’s Apizza at 245 Main; Bedford Hall at 135 Bedford St.; Roasted Sandwich Co., at 148 Bedford, and California Tortilla at 300 Atlantic St.
The second half of 2017 saw two arrivals on the same block as Kano: Flinders Lane opened at 84 Summer St., while Bar Zepoli launched at 75 Broad St.
A Chinese restaurant and a steakhouse are, respectively, set to replace California Pizza Kitchen and Del Frisco’s. Among other upcoming openings, storefront signs advertise the planned debut of La Perle, an American-Caribbean restaurant, at 15 Bank St.
“I have been in this job for 25 years, and I’ve seen so many restaurants come and go,” Sandy Goldstein, president of the Stamford Downtown Special Services District, said in a recent interview. “The very strong ones that make it are the ones that are able to garner a very stable following.”
Kano could also welcome a new neighbor. It stands next to a vacant storefront formerly occupied by Viceroy Publik House, which closed last summer after operating for only about three months.
Other restaurants on Kano’s block include Buffalo Wild Wings, Cask Republic, Kashi, Noir Stamford and Riviera Maya.
Lim said she saw her neighbors as helping her establishment to draw patrons to the area.
“I’m different,” she said. “I’m focusing on what I’m good at.”
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