Beginning this week, you'll be able to sniff out cheese steaks and find falafel in a new Old North End location. Waell Murray, owner of Global Markets on North Winooski Avenue in Burlington, is convinced that location has been inhibiting his business' growth. "Ever since I opened this business, the location was a stumbling point," Murray gripes. "I was always on the lookout for a place closer to downtown." But he didn't put his storefront on the market, and wasn't actively looking to sell.
Until November - when, Murray relates, a Vietnamese family came into the shop, looked around, and made him an offer. The entrepreneur held out for more. "I've been working here for four years and haven't made a penny," Murray explains. He told the family, "If you are going to buy me out, it has to be worth my while." The two parties eventually came to terms, and the new owners brought in their attorney to seal the deal. Family member Jade Le, who worked at Pho Dang until her parents bought GM, says the new restaurant will be called Pho Hong.
As for Murray, now that he's given up on the old bus terminal, he plans to move a few blocks toward downtown to the space once occupied by Southern Soul. Once he spelled out his business plan to the property owners, "They made me an offer I couldn't refuse," he enthuses.
The first item on that business plan is a fresh name for the store: Globalmart VT. And that won't be the only thing fresh about it. Once the weather permits, Murray plans to build a massive cooler in the backyard and support the ONE community by selling produce at affordable prices. He hopes to give farmers from the Intervale an alternative to the Old North End Farmers' Market, which he claims is "not that profitable." "They'll have a six-day week to sell their produce in my store," he explains.
What about the menu? It's only gonna get bigger, Murray says. But because of his new, more limited seating, about 80 percent of the biz will be take-out rather than eat-in. A few currently slower-selling items may be retired, but he'll replace them with popular faves, such as ravioli and chicken salad. Also look for American-style snack foods, including "humongous bags of chips and big sodas." Murray will continue to supply Halal meat to the area's Muslim community.