Noodle shop adds to downtown Napa flavor profile

Image Source: Napa Valley Register

By L Pierce Carson

Those tuned in to the valley’s ever-growing food scene will not be surprised to learn hospitality industry veteran David Lu has opened Napa’s first noodle shop.

Additionally, local foodies will be pleased to discover a meal at Eight Noodle Shop can be had without taking out a second mortgage on the house.

Making use of the Chinese characters for the number eight — which portends good luck in the Chinese culture — Lu opened Eight Noodle Shop just over a month ago in the intimate indoor/outdoor Clay Street structure that formerly housed Mini Mango — which moved to new Main Street digs.

Lu had been working on another project — an Asian-style sports bar with food also in downtown Napa — when the August earthquake struck. When that project was put on hold, Napa developer Michael Holcomb asked Lu if he’d like to take over the Clay Street structure for a noodle shop that he’d envisioned for some time.

Image Source: Napa Valley Register

“I was always talking about noodles,” Lu said as he prepared for a dinner crowd the other evening. “We thought Mini Mango might keep this location in addition to the new one on Main Street — but when they decided they wouldn’t do that, Michael contacted me. I took over the lease on Nov. 1 and we opened to customers on Dec. 8.”

Born and raised in Taiwan, Lu grew up in the restaurant business when his parents settled in Napa. They opened Lu’s Mongolian Barbecue in the late ‘70s and Lu worked at that restaurant as a young man. Eager to try something new, Lu was hired by Cindy Pawlcyn to wait tables at Mustards Grill. He then helped Giovanni and Donna Scala open Piatti in Yountville, spending four years as a member of the front-of-the-house team.

Lu teamed up with partners Dan Giacalone and chef Marco Ruiz to open Pasta Prego in Napa’s Grapeyard Shopping Center in 1989, adding Fusilli in Fairfield to the portfolio a couple of years later. Lu was also one of the partners opening Saketini in Bel Aire Plaza a decade later.

The Napa restaurateur took a break from running a food and beverage business after getting married. “I have four daughters and I felt I should concentrate on my family,” Lu said. Nevertheless, he didn’t absent himself from the hospitality industry as he spent the past eight years working as a dinner captain at Auberge du Soleil.

Asked why he returned to running a restaurant, Lu said “this is the only thing that I love to do … something that I’ve been involved in my whole life. My kids are older … I’m refreshed … the time was right. It was always my plan to get back into the (restaurant) business. There’s nothing better than working for yourself, even if it does mean some pretty long days.” Read more…

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