After closing his UTSA-area restaurant
in early May to focus on cancer treatments, Noodle Tree chef-owner Mike Nyugen dreamed of serving customers again one day.
That day has now come. The popular noodle shop will reopen for takeout on Thursday.
“When I first shut down, I focused on getting healthy and getting treatment. But I always had the restaurant at the back of my mind,” Nguyen told the Current
. “It was never a matter of if
, but when
For the first three weeks back, the shop will offer food on a reservation-only basis, allowing guests to set a time to swing by and pick up their pork bao buns, dumplings or — of course — ramen. Think grocery store-style curbside service.
Though Texas has cleared restaurants to open at 75% capacity, Nguyen says socially distanced seating isn't feasible inside Noodle Tree. Instead, he negotiated with his landlord to create an outdoor dining area that will include a mini dog park in a vacant space in front of the restaurant.
The outdoor area and dog park are still under construction, but should be completed by the end of October.
“The guidelines the state gives us are a joke. We just have to think outside of the box,” Nguyen said. “Of course, I’ll take [their] rules and apply them, but we have to find a legitimate way to survive.”
Nguyen gained national attention for speaking out against Gov. Greg Abbott’s plan to reopen the Texas economy in April, even as COVID-19 cases were on the uptick. CNN tapped him
to share his story, and he spoke candidly about the trials faced by bar and restaurant owners.
“You get 25% of your restaurant business, but you have to get 100% of the rent,” Nguyen said in the segment. “How are you going to supplement that 75%? It’s just not feasible.”
Noodle Tree will be open Thursday through Saturday from noon to 9 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 8 p.m., offering 11 hourly pickup slots. Customers are encouraged to order online, using the revamped ordering system on the eatery’s website
Nguyen will update details on his planned dining area on social media
So many restaurants, so little time. Find out the latest San Antonio dining news with our Flavor Friday Newsletter.