NORFOLK, Va. — When Niel Bodon was a child, he was already preparing for a life in the restaurant business.
"My mom ran a place in England when I was 14, and I would jump behind the bar and make sandwiches for people," Bodon smiled.
He said he's always had a side-gig in a restaurant. Bodon moved to the United States in 1995 as a teacher. Even then, he worked part-time at a restaurant.
His first idea for his own eatery was a food truck, but at the time, permits in Norfolk were tough to come by.
In October 2013, he decided he would finally be in the business full time, and opened Streats on 21st Street in Norfolk. He knew he wanted to keep the idea of a food truck alive.
"Say you were in a truck, and you drove around to different countries, different streets, and take all of those different dishes and then put it into a brick and mortar place," he said, looking around the restaurant with pride. "So that's how Streats came about."
Streats serves up international cuisine.
"From Texmex to Thai to Asian, we represent about 7 or 8 different countries currently on the menu," Bodon said.
It sounds like a lot because it is. However, Bodon does it successfully.
"Currently, one of our most popular dishes is our hand-dipped, beer-battered fish and chips. If you're a burger fan, our burger is a little bit different. We have a 50/50 lamb and beef burger. And we make a bacon marmalade, we make our aioli, caramelized onions and we put all that on a brioche bun. It's an amazing burger, and some goat cheese on there as well, so an explosion of flavors," Bodon said.
And don't worry, they have vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free options.
The indoor seating is beautiful, with a friendly, calm atmosphere. But, if it's a nice day, try sitting outside. Their "Streatery" is gorgeous and offers your food with a little bit of fresh air and sunshine.
For Bodon, the food, though he loves it, isn't his favorite part.
"Meeting people. That's definitely one of the things I enjoy the most is meeting new people," he said.
He said the pandemic's beginning was tough, and going to takeout only for a while was worrisome. Still, customers pulled him through.
"And the people who supported me then continue to support us now. It means everything, it really does because, without customers, we are nothing," he said.
If you want to visit Streats, you can find the restaurant at 915 West 21st St. Suite A in Norfolk.