Colin Boyle/Daily Senior Staffer
Following storefronts and pop-ups by restaurants including Frontera Fresco and The Purple Pig, yet another local eatery will set up shop on the Evanston campus, feeding an effort by Northwestern Dining to bring students fresh food from nearby businesses.
Local restaurant Viet Nom Nom opened a kiosk Monday on the ground floor of Norris University Center, where it will operate as a quarter-long pop-up restaurant serving Vietnamese-inspired dishes. The project is part of a larger strategy by NU Dining to feature local establishments that follow food trends, said Buzz Doyle, general manager of retail dining operations.
“We wanted to partner with some local businesses that we can bring in to Norris to make a better offering to the students of what our local community is like around us,” he said. “Viet Nom Nom was a great partner to start that with.”
While the change gives students better access to food they already enjoy, it also allows Northwestern to feature a startup created by a member of the “Northwestern family,” Doyle said.
Owners Alan Moy and Noah Bleicher (Kellogg ’15) began developing the business when Bleicher was still a graduate student. The two have since moved from offering “grab and go” options in the Kellogg School of Management to operating out of several campus locations and an Evanston restaurant.
The Norris kiosk marks a new milestone for the business, which Moy said he hopes to eventually expand throughout the Chicago area. For now, however, Moy said he enjoys his partnership with the NU community.
“We’re doing it with the right partners, and we’re doing it with the right community,” he said. “This is everything you could dream of and more when it comes to familiar faces, really good community partners and good operational partners.”
Communication sophomore Zury Cutler, who frequents the downtown store location, said he’s likely to visit the new kiosk because he eats from Norris restaurants often.
Its location is convenient for students, he added, and the menu is inclusive of different diet options.
“I’m a big fan of also that Viet Nom Nom has a lot of really good vegetarian options,” he said. “It’s really good because that tends to be lacking in a lot of restaurants in Evanston and also on campus. Viet Nom Nom will provide some good variety for vegetarians on campus.”
The menu offers healthy, tasty and high-quality food that fits both the business’ “mantra” and food trends enjoyed by students, Moy said. In addition to salads, peanut noodles and spring rolls that are made fresh daily, the kiosk will offer pho and banh mi sandwiches with several protein options like chicken, pork and tofu. Moy said he hopes to eventually bring new options like bubble tea and smoothies.
The kiosk is open on weekdays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., but Moy said he hopes to expand those hours. Meanwhile, Viet Nom Nom’s kiosk is a welcome addition for Norris executive director Jeremy Schenk, who said he has received positive feedback about the retail dining changes, such as made-to-order pizza station The Kiln and other pop-ups.
“We’re really trying to look at how do we meet those growing and changing needs of what our students are wanting,” he said. “We know that means we need to be fresh in ideas and fresh in concepts and that we are constantly being innovative in our approach.”
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