PARIS — A Bryant Pond couple said they are moving their dining business to Bethel for the winter, with plans to return to the small blue food trailer next to McLaughlin Garden in the spring.

Le Mu Eats — translation: “the pig eats” — has been operating the past two months, offering what cook Sayvepen “Sav” Sengasavang describes as an amalgamation of Southern cuisine and the Laotian food he ate growing up.

“I’m trying not to label the food as ‘fusion,’” he said. “We’re trying to push the food as a modern American cuisine. I know there’s a place for specific cultural cuisine, but I’m just trying to portray my American experience.”

While the menu frequently changes, some of the meals are: pho nachos, veggie chips topped with a ground beef mixture and cabbage slaw, and served with extra limes and/or hot sauce on the side; khao poon, a spicy rice vermicelli soup; and banh mi, a sandwich of pickled vegetables and protein options from sweet minced pork to fatty pate to sardines, all served on an airy baguette.

Sav loves to “mess with food,” his wife, Elise, said.

He’ll be able to continue doing that at their new location at Steam Mill Brewing at 7 Mechanic St. in Bethel starting Jan. 4 until April 14. Hours are noon to 8 p.m. Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.

They have stopped working at the food trailer in Paris, but from Dec. 4 to 7 they will be popping up at Norway Brewing Co. at 237 Main St. for lunch service. Hours are 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The couple moved to Maine after spending several years in Virginia, where Sav started a catering business but found he missed the creativity that comes with owning a restaurant.

From catering, Sav said they moved into the world of pop-up restaurants and found it to be labor-intensive but rewarding.

“The way pop-up restaurants work is we find a restaurant willing to open space to us, maybe on a day that they’re closed or when they’re not occupying the space,” he said. “They allow us to rent and use that space, but run it with our own staff and food. We cook our own food using their space, and then when we’re done, we pack up everything and leave.”

Le Mu Eats quickly gained traction in Virginia, but Elise eventually felt a pull to come to Maine where she was born.

“My father was in the Army, so while both of my parents grew up in Bryant Pond, I never lived in Maine for very long,” Elise said. “I love Virginia, but my family had retired and I have no family anywhere except for Maine. I really wanted to move up this way and be around my family.”

The couple live in Bryant Pond in a house that Elise’s great-grandparents adapted from a one-story schoolhouse. Nine months after settling in, they began hosting private dinners at their house.

“Sav cooked five-course meals — and we’d invite people to come and eat here,” Elise said. Customers paid what they wanted.

“We didn’t want to set a price because we wanted it to be open to as many people as possible,” Sav said. “We wanted people to experience the food, to see what it would be like to serve to people in Western Maine.”

After more than a year, they learned a food trailer in Paris was for sale, so they bought it, got Planning Board approval and opened Le Mu Eats on Sept. 15.

Sav said the goal is to eventually open a “brick and mortar building for the restaurant.”

“We’re open to whatever opportunities come up,” he said. “Whether it’s two years from now or five years, we just want to open a restaurant in an area that we really love.”

“We’re not looking to open a huge restaurant chain or make crazy amounts of money,” Elise said. “We just want a place with a community we love and a place where (Sav) can just mess with food.”

mdaigle @sunmediagroup.net

Elise and Sayvepen Sengsavang of Bryant Pond stand in front of their restaurant, Le Mu Eats, next to McLaughlin Garden on Main Street in Paris. (Submitted photo)


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