Bill Blackler, the co-owner of Nisa’s Thai Kitchen in Warrenton, is planning an ethnic food hub in the former Port of Call Bistro and Bar at Ninth and Commercial streets.
Blackler and a group of investors recent bought the building housing Port of Call and the Astoria Event Center from Rose Marie Paavola’s company, Luottamus Partners. He hopes within six months to have the former Port of Call space divided into smaller storefronts with several ethnic restaurants, including a Mexican bakery, Lebanese restaurant and others.
He and his wife, Nisa, opened Nisa’s Thai Kitchen in the former Kim’s Kitchen Korean restaurant on Harbor Drive in Warrenton in 2014.
“I’d like to stay (with) ethnic food, because I’ve seen such success out at Nisa’s,” he said.
There are plenty of places with burgers and fish and chips, while ethnic food shows strong growth nationally, he said. A previous analysis by the Astoria Downtown Historic District Association found a lack of ethnic food options.
The concrete building’s facade features glass blocks near the top of a blank wall. Blackler hopes to cut into the walls between the building’s pillars, installing large windows or roll-up glass garage doors.
“We want to open it up,” he said. “It’s kind of a dank, dungeon looking thing down there.”
The former Port of Call and Astoria Event Center have been vacant since Marvin James Sawyer, the former owner of Port of Call, was forced out two years ago after a rental dispute. The building was the last to be sold by Luottamus Partners, a former partnership between Paavola and the late Robert “Mitch” Mitchum.
Blackler is undecided what will be done with the Astoria Event Center, which used to host wrestling, the FisherPoets Gathering and other events. He plans to store equipment there for his consulting company repairing and reselling food processing equipment.