Sandwiched — please pardon the pun — between a McDonald’s, a Subway, and a Jimmy John’s, a new Vietnamese restaurant called Two Asian Brothers is trying to offer something new and different to the generally college-aged diners on Foster Avenue.
The menu at Two Asian Brothers is fairly simple, made up of an ample selection of Banh Mi, Asian fried rice dishes, a small selection of appetizers and a wide variety of fruit smoothies. It is set up as a take-out style restaurant but several well cleaned tables are almost always open for guests wishing to dine in. Those who do choose to dine in will be rewarded with a view of original artwork by the two Asian brothers (that aren’t actually brothers) who started Two Asian Brothers, Vincent Le and Sunny Thankachen.
The 11 paintings that adorn the walls of the restaurant tell the tale of the two’s journeys through their past jobs, their mutual discovery of religion, and the eventual opening of their own restaurant.
With so many big corporate competitors as neighbors, Two Asian Brothers is definitely the underdog on the block. According to Chicago Tribune reporter Kevin Pang “The intended demographic is clear: College students who demand inexpensive food that’s both dinner tonight and lunch tomorrow.” It is a business model that has been successfully utilized for years by many other businesses on the block like Subway and Jimmy John’s. The rusting sign over the now closed Angie’s Sub Shop lies just a few stores west of Two Asian Brothers and serves as a constant reminder of how difficult competing with big corporations can be for the mom and pop stores on Foster Avenue.
Success for small business owners on Foster Avenue isn’t just a pipe dream though, as proven by another neighbor of Two Asian Brothers, Tre Kronor. Privately owned by two community members, Tre Kronor celebrates its 20th year of business this year and certainly seems to have found its niche on Foster Avenue. Two Asian Brothers are also attempting to offer something new and different to the neighborhood and will hopefully find the same sort of niche that Tre Kronor has found.
Two Brothers is a welcome addition to the stretch of Foster Avenue between Kimball and Kedzie avenues which, with the addition of Two Asian Brothers, should by now be dubbed “Sandwich Alley.” If the droves of hungry college students in the area have anything to say about it, Two Asian Brothers should be around for a long time to come.
This article was written by Karl Rorvik
The Chicago Tribune 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago IL 60611