Not only is Bac Nguyen, owner of the popular Bac Asian Bistro, newly engaged, but he's knee deep in plans to open his second Cleveland restaurant. While he's keeping some details under lock and key, he is willing to share more than a few juicy morsels with Scene about his project, which is slated to open this summer on the East Side of town.
Bac is coming on four years old and I finally have a crew here that I can trust to do a great job in my absence. Some of my cooks have been with me for years. Our menu isn't huge, but there are still enough moving parts to orchestrate.
In this business, four years is quite an accomplishment. What are you doing right?
I saw an opportunity to put a little Midwest spin on Asian cuisine, while still keeping hints of authenticity. Asian food continues to permeate our culture, even on the menus of non-Asian restaurants. This food has always been my comfort food, and I was able to make it something that the average person can accept as their comfort food.
Why not just open another Bac in a different part of town?
I like the concept we have here, and I thought long and hard about opening up another one. But then I thought, How many more of these can I do before it becomes something out of my control. I saw the opportunity to do something a little simpler with the opportunity for growth.
"Simpler," as in fast-casual?
I considered the quick-service segment, but everybody seems to have jumped on the "Next Chipotle" bandwagon. This will be more of a pub with a fun Asian spin. Guests will be seated and served by waiters.
And the food?
There will be a very concise menu; more like a bar menu with smaller options. At Bac we have to be a little more serious because of our location in Tremont. This concept will give me more room to be whimsical and fun.
You mentioned opportunity for growth. Does this concept have chain potential?
It has the potential to grow, yes, but we're not going into it with the goal of opening X number of these. People are gravitating to restaurants that are more affordable, casual and tasty — a place you can go multiple times per week.
So, you're bullish on Cleveland?
I love this city and think there's a lot of opportunity to do something that really speaks to what Clevelanders enjoy — like beer and Asian food.