Nong's Khao Mang Gai has grown from one person to a staff of 42
Nong Poonsukwattana grew up seeing her mother work long hours as a restaurant cook in her homeland of Thailand. She thought she never wanted to be in the restaurant business.
But when she immigrated to the United States six years ago with only $75 in her pocket, she applied for any job she could find. Through the process of cooking for friends, her ideas developed, and she started working at Pok Pok. "I had to peel shallots all day! But I liked it because I was working with my hands. I realized I enjoyed making good food," she says. She started saving her money.
When she travelled back to Thailand, she saw people selling food on the streets in a unique way: a girl with her motorcycle, making papaya salad; a man who had a sign that said "One Man Making \ Khao Man Gai in the Bangkapi neighborhood.” She says, "I kept saying to myself...I can be the One Woman Khao Man Gai!"
Nong achieved her success thanks to hard work and help along the way from her mentors, Andy Richter at Pok Pok and Nate Tilden from Olympic Provisions. Her business, Nong's Khao Mang Gai, has grown from one person to a staff of 42.
Nong’s kindness and charisma makes her customers feel at ease. She greets her customers like good friends and is so easily recognized by her fans that customers dress up as Nong for Halloween. Her signature blond hair stands out.
Why does she work so hard? She says she wants to give hope to those don't have opportunities and are struggling to see success. She faced much hardship as a young child, and her drive to succeed is rooted in her realization that she had hope all along.
Industry: Food & Beverage
Downtown: SW 10th & Alder St.
PSU: 411 SW College St.
Restaurant: 609 SE Ankeny St Suite C