Bida Manda and Brewery Bhavana
Vansana Nolintha, a native of Luang Prabang, Laos, moved alone to NC at the age of twelve with the intention to learn English and return home immediately after his high school graduation. Twenty years later, Van still calls Raleigh his sacred home.
Van and his sister Vanvisa are co-owners of Bida Manda Laotian Restaurant and along with their business partner Patrick Woodson, recently opened Brewery Bhavana in downtown Raleigh. Even though Van is deeply invested in the hospitality industry, his journey to Bida Manda and Brewery Bhavana is anything but traditional. Van studied Chemistry, Art and Design, and World Religious Studies at NC State University with the hope to become a physician. After many service-learning experiences in more than thirty countries, Van switched his path entirely and continued his academic journey to Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland, to study International Peace and Conflict Resolution. Van’s concentration at Trinity College was on community building and the role of art and design in the peace making process.
At the age of twenty five, Van returned to Raleigh at the peak of the recession and took another dramatic turn as he opened one of the first Laotian Restaurants in the country in the Moore Square District of downtown Raleigh. Along with many recognitions, Bida Manda was named Best Restaurant in North Carolina by Business Insider. Over the past five years, Bida Manda has become more than a busy restaurant; it is a community gathering place focusing on many social issues ranging from adult addiction to homelessness and immigration. Brewery Bhavana opened in March of 2017 and was recently named Top 10 Best New Restaurants in America by Bon Appetit, 10 Coolest Places to Eat in the World by Forbes, and in February of 2018, Brewery Bhavana became a semi-finalist for the James Beard Foundation’s Best New Restaurant award.