Note: This was originally going to start off as a single post but realized that I had a lot more to say on the topic that I thought lol! So stay tuned for a part 2 of this multi-part series coming soon!
First off, I have to give it up to the AAPI over at CSUN that hosted the Restauranteur Panel called Home Cooked. I know it was a while ago, but it has ignited something in me that I didn’t know was there. Not only did I get to share some of my knowledge with the attendees but I actually learned a lot about myself too. Turns out, I have opinions lol!
One of the big topics at the panel was the LA food scene and how it has evolved in the recent years. TBH, I never thought of myself as someone that can comment on this topic. I guess because I’m a little suburban business owner I felt like I didn’t have credibility to really say anything. But when I was asked I, surprisingly, had a lot of say about it. But before I talk about the state of our current food scene I feel like I need to give you a little bit of back story to validate my approach and create relevance as to why we are where we are today with food.
Ninong’s started in a really “weird” time in LA’s socio-economic history. October of 2008 was the beginning of the “Great Recession” and people were losing their jobs, my family members included. It was a time of uncertainty for many of us, yet here we were putting all our money and time into a family business that wouldn’t be cheap to start up. Some might say we were a little crazy to even think about taking on this undertaking.
Approaching our grand opening on October 11th in 2008 many businesses were closing down. Business big and small were shutting their doors. Many other businesses that were embarking on the same journey as we were closed down before they could even officially open. Others were open for a matter of weeks or months before they had to stop operations. Others hung in there for a few years but were unable to fight through it. It was a really tough time to be a business owner. It was hard to see our fellow entrepreneurs not opening their doors the next day. We barely scraped by during that time. We clawed through and did what we could to survive. There were a lot of days where we didn’t have enough. We would wonder where we would get the money to pay for the expenses,. But the bright light to this part of the story is years went by and, slowly and steadily, things started to look up, and it began to change.
Over the last 10 years I’ve observed something about my fellow restaurant and small business owners – their resilience even in the face of defeat. To be a business owner, especially in the last 10 years, you have to be really savvy to get through that time. You’ve got to want it and be willing to work tirelessly for it. You have to adapt, make it work, and have a resilience about you. Especially when you had days like we had. You’ve got to have something special to survive. I feel like the evolution of the Los Angeles food scene has really transformed because of the basis of this idea and what Los Angeles went through during that time.
More on this in Part 2 of the series coming soon!