Successors Big Citizen and Hieu Pham to Reopen Bon Ton
Legendary New Orleans Restaurateur Hands Over
Vietnamese-Creole Restaurant in Dying Wishes
ATLANTA, Ga. (December 23, 2016) â€“ On December 16th we lost a prominent figure in the culinary world. Hoa Nguyen was not only an inspiration to esteemed chefs around the globe, but to anyone who left their home with a dream of something betterâ€”something...more palatable.
When Big Citizen (Darren Carr and Eric Simpkins) and Chef Hieu Pham (of Crawfish Shack Seafood) met Nguyen years ago in his New Orleans restaurant, Bon Ton, they fell in love with his story (and his food) and were honored to accept the responsibility of continuing his legacy. It is with great bereavement and vehemence that we announce the grand reopening of Bon Ton under its new management, on January 10th, 2017. But don’t worryâ€”it will be more like a party and less like a funeral, just like Nguyen would have wanted.
Nguyen actually modeled his restaurant after the party-hopping bon ton lifestyle, in keeping with the â€œhigh societyâ€ mentality, originating from the French. Growing up in Vietnam, Nguyen was very familiar with the French language, so like many other immigrants at the time, finding a new start in New Orleans seemed most fitting after the Vietnam War. His new environment lent itself to a symbiotic relationship between Vietnamese and Creole cuisine, which he took advantage of when opening his first restaurant, Nguyen To Go, in 1976.
You wouldn’t think a casual to-go restaurant with only nine seats could help shape the 6th Ward, but it did! Nguyen embraced the diversity of his new neighborhood, bringing it closer together and earning respect from the locals. In 1988 he expanded the restaurant, adding a more elegant dining room and changing the name to reflect the new atmosphere.
Carr, Simpkins, and Pham could be seen frequenting the Bon Ton hotspot shortly there after, becoming regulars and good friends of Nguyen’s. The rest is history. All three were right by Nguyen’s side last month as he uttered his dying words, “I know you will all carry the Bon Ton torch high and proud, and its spirit will live on through you.“