Last week, Viet Nom Nom announced it will be closing its three locations permanently on Friday, Feb. 24, but the restaurants’ owner will be shutting down with his head held high.
“While it’s inherently a tough experience to close your business, I can wholeheartedly share that I am more than proud & fulfilled by our journey,” Alan Moy wrote in a Facebook post to the Support Evanston Restaurants Facebook page.
Viet Nom Nom initially launched as a catering business serving Northwestern University in 2015. Two years later, the storefront opened at 618½ Church St., tapping a Kickstarter campaign for some of the funding.
Viet Nom Nom currently operates the downtown Evanston store plus locations in the Norris Center on Northwestern’s campus and at The Hatchery, a shared kitchen space in Chicago’s East Garfield Park neighborhood.
On Facebook, Moy wrote: ”It’s been a true honor to be a part of the Evanston community, a privilege to hire, employ, and develop 100+ amazing individuals, and a delight to serve hundreds of thousands of meals to so many amazing & supportive NOM NOM fans + individuals in need of meals (our initial estimates point to serving nearly a half million meals over the last eight years!!).”
Moy said there were a number of times that Viet Nom Nom had served 2,000 to 3,000 people in a single day, counting all three locations.
In a conversation with me, Moy said the closures were due to a multitude of causes.
“The pandemic did not make things easier … we are essentially in the district that is like the Loop in Chicago. Foot traffic is essential,” he said, explaining some of the basic problems he was facing.
Viet Nom Nom received two federal Paycheck Protection Program loans, totaling about $128,000, in 2020 and 2021 during the worst of Covid-19.
Moy noted that his business used to be open 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. six days a week. “Now we are only open Tuesday through Friday from 11a.m. to 3 p.m.,” he said.
In addition, he said supply chain issues have plagued the business since the onset of the pandemic. “At some point we had trouble getting rice paper,” he said, adding, ”When Vietnam was in lockdown, our menu was altered.”
Moy, a fast and passionate talker, also mentioned the increased cost of packaging multiple times as he listed several challenges. “The bottom floor of the wages are up; packages are up; rent has gone up,” he said.
When I asked Moy why he isn’t just downsizing, he explained that the businesses are interwoven: For example, some of the items sold at the Northwestern campus location are prepared in the Church Street store and the Hatchery prep location.
Moy said he plans to remain involved with several advisory boards he has been working with in Evanston. He is a member of the executive committee of Downtown Evanston and plans to continue in that role.
Portrait of Viet Nom Nom owner Alan Moy on our website is by Barry Brecheisen.
Food from Viet Nom Nom will be missed but not more than Alan. What a great guy. Good luck in your next adventure!