Home Back Issues May 2013 Food cart owner Nong balances life, work and play

Food cart owner Nong balances life, work and play

| Print |  Email
Articles - May 2013
Monday, April 29, 2013

BY EMMA HALL

0513 FOB LiveWorkPlay
Food cart owner Nong is expanding her business downtown and in Southeast Portland.
// Photo by Adam Wickham

Narumol Poonsukwattana (Nong), 33, runs one of Portland’s most famous food carts: Nong’s Khao Man Gai. Her cart has won the hearts of food critics and the business-lunch crowd alike, despite serving only one dish — poached organic chicken and rice wrapped in butcher paper, a popular Thai street food with Chinese roots. Nong moved to Portland from Bangkok in 2003, working at Thai restaurants around town before deciding to start her own business. She opened her first cart downtown in 2009; three years later, she opened a second center-city location, plus a takeout kitchen in Southeast Portland. Nong’s special sauce, known for its cult-like following, is available at New Seasons Market, the Woodsman Market, Uwajimaya and other grocery stores. Where does a food cart maven get her own lunch fix? “Eurotrash and the Frying Scotsman are two of my favorites,” she says.

FEELING THE LOVE

“What keeps me going every day is just customers appreciating what I do. It gives me encouragement. It’s not even about the money. I see that what I put in gets rewarded. Recently, Timbers fans voted on food carts to serve at the games. We got a really good response and we won. It was very busy, amazing energy. Work can be very fun.”

EVEN KEEL

“I do rock climbing. I used to rock climb a lot when I only had one food cart. When I expanded I didn’t have time. Later, I realized it wasn’t good for me when I worked too much. I couldn’t think straight. This year my team works on their own more often, and my role as owner has changed. It’s important for me to be there for my team mentally, so I try to balance my life better. I’ve gone back to climbing more often now.”

NEWLYWED

“I’m satisfied with what I have in life right now. About a year ago I married Scott; he came into my life at an unexpected time. I was almost giving up on having a personal life. Dating is hard, and I was so focused on my work. But he’s a good guy. I’m so happy I found a partner who gives me good support. I have a dog … life is good [laughing].”

DOWNTIME

“My husband surfs. He has a little cabin with his friend. When I went along I had nothing to do, so I went to a driving range near the Tillamook Cheese Factory. I was never interested in golf before. When I hit the ball, it just felt good, so now I’ve started golfing. I also love gardening. I grow my own Thai herbs, like basil and lemongrass, that I use in my Asian cooking.”

NEXT

“In the future, I’d like to see my product in every grocery store, even outside of Oregon. I want to have more products out, like hot sauce and a gluten-free sauce. One day I want to be a good, big business. But I started from just one food cart. I see the first little location where I invested a lot of time and energy, and now see how [the business] is growing.”

 

More Articles

Green Endeavor cleans up

News
Wednesday, August 06, 2014
080614 ULnew greenendeavorBY LINDA BAKER | OB EDITOR

Portland startup Green Endeavor strikes gold, inking a partnership with Underwriters Laboratories, an Illinois-based consulting and certification company with offices in 46 countries.


Read more...

The Alchemist

September 2014
Tuesday, August 26, 2014
BY LINDA BAKER

David Howitt explains why Portland consumer brands like Stumptown and Voodoo Doughnuts are taking the world by storm.


Read more...

Risks & rewards of owning triple net investments

Contributed Blogs
Thursday, July 24, 2014
NNNinvestmentBY CLIFF HOCKLEY | OB GUEST CONTRIBUTOR

With the increasing retirements of Baby Boomers, a massive real estate shift has created a significant increase in demand for NNN properties. The result? Increased demand has triggered higher prices and lower yields.


Read more...

College Hacker

September 2014
Wednesday, August 27, 2014
BY KLINT FINLEY

Treehouse CEO Ryan Carson builds a 21st-century trade school.


Read more...

Poll Wrap-Up

News
Friday, August 15, 2014

2014 NewPoll-report-newsletterthumbIn this week's poll, we asked readers: "Who should pay for the troubled Cover Oregon website?" Here are the results.


Read more...

Podcast: Interview with Steve Balzac

Contributed Blogs
Tuesday, August 19, 2014

082014BalzacBY TOM COX | OB BLOGGER

Tom Cox interviews Steve Balzac, author of "Organizational Psychology for Managers."


Read more...

Molecular Movies

September 2014
Wednesday, August 27, 2014
BY LINDA BAKER

Dr. Chong Fang isn’t God. But the assistant professor of chemistry at Oregon State University is getting closer to figuring out how he put everything together. 


Read more...
Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02
SPONSORED LINKS