Restaurant Roundtable is our new virtual panel series bringing restaurants and industry leaders together for conversations that move the industry forward.
In recognition of Asian American and Pacific Islander heritage month, we spoke with our AAPI restaurant partners about the impact of the pandemic, how their businesses are navigating through it, and the power of food to bring people and cultures together.
This month’s restaurant roundtable is hosted by Chiling Tong, president and CEO of the National ACE, the Asian/Pacific Islander American Chamber of Commerce and Entrepreneurship. Prior to her role as president and CEO of the National ACE, Tong was the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Asia and the Pacific in the US Department of Commerce.
National Ace is a national organization that gives a voice to the business interests of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. Its mission is to serve as a strong advocate of AAPI business interests and foster positive change on all issues that enhance and advance the goals and aspirations of AAPI business owners, entrepreneurs and corporate leaders.
The National ACE is also Grubhub’s National non-profit partner for May. Throughout May, all proceeds from Grubhub’s Donate the Change program will benefit National ACE and AAPI-owned restaurants across the nation. “AAPI-owned businesses have been disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, “ commented Chiling Tong.“Many are facing the increasing threat of anti-AAPI sentiment. Grubhub’s goal to support our community through the Donate the Change program will provide a great deal of needed relief during this very difficult time.”
AAPI Heritage Month Restaurant Roundtable Panelists
Mary Nguyen Aregoni
Mary Nguyen Aregoni is the founder and CEO of Saigon Sisters, a restaurant chain located in Chicago specializing in modernized Vietnamese cuisine with Southeast Asian details inspired by Aregoni’s heritage and childhood.
Aregoni opened Saigon Sisters to fulfill her lifelong dream to be an entrepreneur and share her passion for Vietnamese cuisine in Chicago that did not have any Vietnamese restaurants.
After a career in engineering, Mazumdar entered the hospitality industry to help his father find his dream and a sense of purpose in New York.
Mayly Tao is the owner of DK Donuts in Santa Monica, California, and has earned a reputation as the “Donut Princess of LA.” Tao’s parents started DK Donuts almost 40 years ago. Tao’s parents were Cambodian refugees who came to America looking for the American dream.
After finishing college, Tao returned to her family business with a fresh business perspective that transformed DK Donuts into a landmark in Santa Monica and a foodie hotspot.