Penelope Wong and Rob Jenks always swore they’d never run a restaurant on their own. So, when the opportunity arose for the owners of Yuan Wonton, Denver’s hottest food truck, to take over a brick-and-mortar space, they brought on two other food trucks to share it.
“We went into the food truck with the priority of work-life balance,” Wong said. “I had been there, done that, running that scale of an operation for 20 years at [Glenmoor Country Club], and growing up I never saw my family unless I was at the restaurant with them.”
As a result, the 2,100-square-foot space at 2878 Fairfax St. in Denver’s Park Hill won’t be your typical restaurant setup. Yuan Wonton, known for its chili-garlic wontons and homemade dumplings, Pho King Rapidos, a Vietnamese food truck with global influences, and Sweets & Sourdough, a delivery-only artisan bakery, will each have set days when they will operate.
Wong said construction on the space, previously home to Crock Spot, is ongoing and that the trio of businesses hope to open in May or early summer this year.
Wong met Amy Patterson and Rachel Elkon, owners of Sweets & Sourdough, through the shared commissary space where they prep the dishes for their trucks. And she met husband-and-wife duo Long Nguyen and Shauna Seaman, owners of Pho King Rapidos, through the food truck circuit, and they’ve since collaborated on pop-up events together.
“A big part of our business model is that we’re hell bent on supporting other small business owners, and after seeing these two businesses’ work ethic first-hand, I knew I could trust and work with them,” said Wong, who was recently nominated as a James Beard semifinalist. “This idea is a way to show that you can be in this industry and not kill yourself, and hopefully we can build a model that our industry friends can eventually try out themselves.”
The trio of businesses have already created a sign with each of their three logos on it, and the respective business’ logo will be lit depending on which is serving food that day. Wong said the businesses plan to host collaborative dinners between the three of them, as well as monthly supper clubs with a local guest chef. They’ll be joining Trellis Wine Bar, Sexy Pizza and Long Table Brewhouse, where Yuan Wonton usually parks twice a month, on the same block.
Not only does Wong want to use this space as an opportunity to give other local women-owned businesses a chance to grow alongside her, but she’s also excited to show her creativity outside of the old Frito Lay truck. She plans to offer Yuan Wonton’s staples, including the chili-garlic wontons and extra large xiao long bao soup dumplings, but said she will expand the usual menu with some new “wow-factor” items.
“If you like what you see in a brown to-go box, just wait till you see what I present on a plate,” Wong said.
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