8$ is a series which occasionally highlights interesting crowdfunding projects. Every day, the 8Asians team is inundated by many worthy pitches. We are unable to highlight every one that comes our way, or even the ones we might individually support. The projects selected for 8$ are not endorsements by 8Asians. (To be considered for 8$, we highly suggest you not harass the writers or the editors of 8Asians.)
WHO: Starry Kitchen, formerly an illegal/underground restaurant out of the back of out of the apartment of Nguyen Tran and his wife, executive chef/Kitchen Ninja Thi Tran. Later a downtown Los Angeles lunch spot. Now a pop-up in Chinatown seeking a permanent home.
WHAT: Kickstarter project: Starry Kitchen – #SaveOurBalls ..and our Restaurant!
From Nguyen Tran:
As I’m sure many of you can relate to, after the financial collapse of ’08 everyone was scrambling: losing jobs, money, houses, you name it, and we were no different. My wife had been laid off from her job in the Advertising industry, I was working as an independent producer/film sales agent in Hollywood scrambling to make a buck and both of us looking for a new way to survive. That’s when my (super talented) wife started cooking (A LOT) and posting her exotic creations onto to Facebook. All of our friends were super impressed by her talent and were begging for us to open a restaurant, and that is what we did… with a non-so-traditional beginning.
In May of 2009 my wife/partner/best friend/executive chef/Kitchen Ninja and I started an Illegal+Underground restaurant out of the back of our apartment that we called… STARRY KITCHEN! This “thing” that we started took off WAY, WAY faster than we had anticipated eventually making our apartment the #1 Asian Fusion restaurant listing in ALL of Los Angeles (our apartment!?!)
We MIGHT have gotten too big with people, Yelpers and eventually the press finding out about our story leading to us finally being found and shut down by the health department… even though I didn’t care and ran it for another 3 months “black ops”-style behind-closed-doors now while we were coincidentally already in the process of finally moving into a real+permitted “brick+mortar” spot.
February of 2010 marked the LEGITIMATE launch of Starry Kitchen in a legit restaurant space that we took over from friends, which was only a lunch spot, and that eventually went viral for us to crowds and businesses we couldn’t even dreamt of. Only problem, we didn’t know how to really run a restaurant correctly, and neither did the people we took over the space from which led to just as many mistakes as our successes. We had to learn on our own at a VERY fast rate.
WHEN: Deadline to contribute is Sunday, February 1, 2015 (3:05pm PT).
WHY: This is “The Go BIG, or GO HOME MOMENT!”
After 5.5 years, some of those personal mistakes eventually led to having to sell our space, becoming a pop-up, moving two more times, fending for ourselves to keeping our employees and customers with us, finally landing in Chinatown as part of this amazing revitalization that’s happening as we speak AND keeping Starry Kitchen ALIVE!
What success we HAVE had has all come from us NOT playing by the rules. Whenever we play by “the rules” we’ve always failed, but every time we break them and make our own rules: us, our staff and ultimately our customers ALL win. Not everyone will understand that, and that’s OK because we’re happy to help lead EVERYONE to greener and tastier (Asian) pastures on this journey for all that support us and not alike.