Vietnamese Restaurant Gets Cold Reception

The owner of the proposed restaurant must return to the ZBA with new drawings to gain approvals.


At their meeting on Wednesday the Zoning Board of Appeals sent a proposed Vietnamese restaurant at 286 Humphrey Street back to the drawing board.

The applicants, Nam Nguyen and Tho Thi Lam-Nguyen, want a permit to renovate the building, formerly occupied by an insurance company and law firm. The restaurant would seat 61 diners inside and 20 outside.

Opposition came from several board members who said an Asian-themed exterior would not be appropriate for the neighborhood.

Immediate neighbors objected to having a restaurant at that site, which can have only six parking spaces.

One neighbor said the delivery truck noise and the proposed dumpster would create problems for his property.

The issue was postponed until new drawings of the proposed restaurant could be created.

The Swampscott restaurant plans to serve a variety of traditional fare including a Vietnamese specialty called pho, a soup with rice noodles, chicken or beef, vegetables, bean sprouts, lime, Thai basil and other ingredients.

Nguyen’s will feature food with traditional Vietnamese ingredients like lemongrass, Vietnamese mint, Thai basil, fish sauce, mint and ginger, as well as the pho.  Fish, chicken, beef and pork are staples in the Vietnamese diet, and many varieties of seafood.

Also, many Vietnamese dishes focus on the vegetarian tradition established by Buddhists.

The Nguyen family bought the property on Humphrey Street from Beatrice Insurance, who will be moving to a new location in town.

Gerrit Bradley April 30, 2012 at 08:10 PM
Marion Court College has not applied to become a casino. THAT would create some issues for the neighbors that might also involve the Swampscott community. We are talking about a Restaurant on Humphrey St.?
John B Goode April 30, 2012 at 11:45 PM
We're talking about a nonconforming use for the property that is before the board of appeals. If the neighbors were for it, the appeal would proceed smoothly. I suspect the same board, although not the same members, approved the neighbors that now oppose the conversion of Papa John's. Someone thought they would improve the tax base. A restaurant makes noise, whether it's refrigeration equipment, deliveries, or unruly patrons. I was just sympathizing with the folks who will have this new neighbor. An office would make considerably less noise and goes home at 5:00, keeping the neighborhood as it is zoned. Some of you should check the water level in your Depends. I never said anything racist or anti business, just trying to support the neighbors and keep the zoning laws that were planned for a reason. There seems to be a toxic attitude in this town, at least from many commentors on this site for several subjects, that people should just accept what is dropped in their backyard for the good of the town.
Myjanda May 01, 2012 at 03:14 PM
Unless we are talking about another Humphrey St, there are restaurants and bakeries just a block away from this location, so for someone to worry about the neighbors who chose to move onto a main commercial thoroughfare seems misplaced. And there is always someone against something new going into their neighborhood, no matter what. People don't like change and if we let that be the deciding factor in every case, literally nothing would ever get built. Ever.
Richard Gindes May 16, 2012 at 07:25 PM
Pho Minh Ky is wonderful and this seems like it would be a terrific addition to the Humphrey Street corridor. We do not need any more chain restaurants in town. We need to find out why the ZBA is troubled by an Asian themed restaurant! An Italian restaurant or Jewish style Deli restaurant would be more acceptable? Why? What's up with that? We need to support businesses especially along Humphrey street!
Liz May 16, 2012 at 07:48 PM
Maybe the ZBA is waiting for this gentleman to make a sizeable donation to the town in order to get his permit, apparently blackmail is now acceptable in Swampscott. It happened with the project by Bruce Paradise, wonder who else had to pay the piper? Is this even legal if it is legal seems to be very unethical...


More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something
See more »