Zach Pratt, center, commands the boba kitchen in its new location on Lisbon Street in Lewiston during a busy lunch hour Wednesday. (Sun Journal photo by Andree Kehn)

LEWISTON — Zach Pratt wasn’t sure at first about bringing boba downtown — he worried about foot traffic and parking at the Asian bistro.

Keshia Thanephonesy and Zach Pratt stand outside the newly relocated boba restaurant on Lisbon Street in Lewiston. Sun Journal photo by Andree Kehn

Then came opening day last month and a crowd so overwhelming and thrilled to see boba after a nine-month hiatus that customers lined up down the street. Pratt immediately closed for two weeks, hired six more employees, bringing him up to 10, and retooled the kitchen’s flow.

Now he couldn’t be happier to be at 97 Lisbon St., beside Rainbow Bicycle.

“I’m feeling really good about the future,” he said Thursday. “We’re going to be part of downtown Lewiston for years to come.”

Pratt and fiancee Keshia Thanephonesy opened boba in 2015 in a five-seat restaurant inside an upper Lisbon Street gas station. It’s developed a loyal, growing following as it left the gas station, moved around pop-up shops and worked for a time out of Jami K’s Variety.

When Jami K’s sold, Pratt said he’d considered space next to Shaw’s on East Avenue, but he would have had to stay open the same hours as Shaw’s, and with a young family, that wasn’t ideal.

They looked at three contenders before settling on the former Ben’s Burritos space and embarking on a 12-week renovation, adding a full, exposed kitchen and a bar, and knocking down walls.

Bacon fried rice is a new item on the menu at boba restaurant, now in its new location on Lisbon Street in Lewiston. Sun Journal photo by Andree Kehn

“It’s about finding the right place and the right vibe,” Pratt said.

They’ve tweaked boba’s menu, adding street eats such as skewers of coconut shrimp and chicken curry, along with seafood bacon and bulgogi beef dumplings. There’s also a new pot ang corn, which Pratt describes as grilled corn on the cob with a coconut glaze and chili dust that “caramelizes almost like kettle corn.”

He said they wanted to go with a night market or carnival theme at the new location with more small, shareable plates to differentiate from the restaurants already downtown.

Pho is still popular and a pick-your-own dish with options for broth, noodles and meat. Pratt said they’ve been serving between 100 and 150 bowls a day.

Boba also has a full bar for the first time with new signature cocktails, including Phnom Mule, boba mai tai and sugar cane margarita. Pratt said he’s also working with Bear Bones Beer to develop a house beer.

“Boba’s mission is to not just create business for ourselves, but to cross-pollinate with the businesses in the area,” he said.

Zach Pratt cooks in boba’s open-air kitchen in Lewiston during a busy lunch hour. Sun Journal photo by Andree Kehn

The new location has sit-down service with 38 seats and has seen an average of 75 people at lunch.

“Dinner is double that,” Pratt said. “We’re drawing a lot of people downtown for dinner. We’re packed right up to 8:30.”

A 15-seat outside patio is planned, as is adding delivery service to Lewiston-Auburn and online ordering.

Boba is open Tuesday to Saturday 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. He anticipates staying open until 1 a.m. Friday and Saturday starting in the fall.

Pratt said he and Thanephonesy added four business partners to boba in the past year, which gave them capital for the move and a strong team to guide and organize the business.

Long term, Pratt hopes to expand to three more locations, keeping them no more than 30 to 40 minutes away.

Pho, a Vietnamese soup consisting of beef, chicken or seafood, bean sprouts and noodles, is on the menu at boba restaurant in Lewiston. Sun Journal photo by Andree Kehn Sun Journal photo by Andree Kehn Sun Journal photo by Andree Kehn

Short term, he’s interested in being part of the growth of downtown. He’d also like to bring live music, entertainment and karaoke to boba.

“Not just any karaoke — the karaoke you see at Asian parties, moms, dads, uncles, they’re singing their hearts out,” Pratt said. “We want to bring the culture of my fiancee’s heritage to Lewiston.”


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